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NHS England unveils plans to reduce prostate cancer diagnosis times

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By vfiore
5 March 2018

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NHS England proposes to reduce cancer diagnosis times from six weeks to one week.

Usually, a test for men with prostate cancer requires an MRI, a biopsy and a number of samples to take, resulting in multiple hospital visits.

A new ‘one-stop shop’ approach, called RAPID, is set to challenge this by using a new FUSION technology.

As a result, patients no longer need to attend multiple outpatient visits over four to six weeks.

NHS England proposes to reduce cancer diagnosis times from six weeks to one week.

Usually, a test for men with prostate cancer requires an MRI, a biopsy and a number of samples to take, resulting in multiple hospital visits.

A new ‘one-stop shop’ approach, called RAPID, is set to challenge this by using a new FUSION technology.

As a result, patients no longer need to attend multiple outpatient visits over four to six weeks.

Commenting on the roll-out of the new approach, chief executive of NHS England Simon Stevens said: ‘This is an encouraging breakthrough in prostate cancer diagnosis that is genuinely world-leading.

‘While still early days, the potential benefit to men with suspected cancer is significant.’

The approach

RAPID is currently being trialled at the Charing Cross Hospital, part of Imperial College Healthcare NHS Trust, and pilot schemes are being rolled out at Epsom Hospital and Queen Mary’s Hospital in Roehampton.

It breaks from the traditional ways of detecting prostate cancer, which involve taking different samples of tissue by inserting a needle through the patient’s rectum.

A new scanning procedure based on the use of detailed a ‘multi-parametric’ MRI (mpMRI) scan, provides much higher quality imagery, which helps up to 40% of patients to safely avoid biopsy.

However, if biopsy is still needed, the FUSION machine provides ultrasound images with 3D MRI scans of the prostate that can be used to accurately target suspect areas for taking tissue samples.

Clinicians will then take samples by inserting the needle through the perineum, which would reduce the risk of sepsis to one case in 500.

Cutting mortality rate

The NHS pledged its commitment to cut the mortality rate for prostate cancer just after figures released last month by Prostate Cancer UK have shown that ‘11,819 men now die from prostate cancer every year in the UK, compared to 11,442 women dying from breast cancer’.

Prostate cancer is the most common cancer affecting men in the UK, with over 40,000 new cases diagnosed every year, said NHS England.

It revealed that it is now looking into how this approach could be rolled out to other major cancer centres in England.

‘Better outcomes’

New chair of NHS England’s Clinical Expert Group for Prostate Cancer and chair of Urology at Imperial College London professor Hashim Ahmed said that the approach has already helped them to reduce diagnosis times.

‘Our results show by using this new pathway we are doing fewer biopsies. In fact, the men that do need biopsies are having state-of-the-art precise biopsies that are finding aggressive cancers earlier and we believe this will lead to better outcomes following treatment.’

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