Leukaemia: Young People

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered at on 23 October 2023.

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Photo of Andrew Rosindell Andrew Rosindell Conservative, Romford

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps his Department is taking to increase the leukaemia diagnosis rate in young people in (a) Romford constituency and (b) England.

Photo of Will Quince Will Quince Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Increasing the diagnosis rates of cancers, including leukaemia, in young people is a priority for the Government. Several organisations, including the Department, are taking steps across England to increase diagnosis rates, including setting stretching ambitions, supporting general practitioners (GPs) in referring patients, expanding diagnostic capacity and enabling more precise diagnosis through technology.

NHS England is working to deliver the ambition it set in its Long Term Plan to diagnose 75% of cancers at stages one and two by 2028.

The Department is working to support GPs in improving referrals for suspected cancer. National Institute for Health and Care Excellence guidance underpinning cancer referrals sets out detailed guidance for GPs on the symptoms of cancer in children and young people, recommending very urgent referral, namely an appointment within 48 hours, for those presenting with a range of potential cancer symptoms, including any unexplained lump, bruising or bleeding, neurological symptoms or bone pain. For many of these symptoms, GPs now have direct access to request diagnostic tests including X-ray and ultrasound.

Backed by £2.3 billion of capital funding, the Department is expanding diagnostic capacity across the National Health Service by rolling out more Community Diagnostic Centres (CDCs), delivering vital tests, scans and checks. With 123 CDCs open already and up to 160 set to open by March 2025, these offer millions of patients the chance to access quicker, more convenient checks outside of hospitals, with capacity prioritised for cancer. This is contributing to the elective recovery delivery plan ambition for 75% of patients urgently referred by their GP for suspected cancer to receive a diagnosis or have cancer ruled out within 28 days.

Additionally, the NHS now offers all children and young people with cancer whole genome sequencing to enable more comprehensive and precise diagnosis, and access to more personalised treatments.

These steps being taken across England, including in Romford, are improving early diagnosis and giving more children and young people the best chance of beating cancer.

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