Nearly three million people received urgent NHS cancer checks in 2023


The number of people getting tested over the last decade has increased by 133%

The NHS has announced a new analysis showing its highest year on record for providing urgent cancer checks over the last year.

Almost three million people in the UK received cancer checks between November 2022 and October 2023.

In alignment with the health service’s goal of catching cancer earlier, the new analysis has shown a 133% increase in the number of people getting checked for cancer over the last decade.

Between November 2022 and October 2023, over 2.9 million people were seen for urgent cancer checks, an increase of 147,960 people between 2021 and 2022.

In October alone, the NHS saw the highest month on record for cancer checks, as well as 269,492 urgent referrals and 192,889 people who received an all-clear or definitive cancer diagnosis.

In addition to this, the NHS has made major progress in diagnosing three-quarters of cancers at earlier stages. Between September 2022 and August 2023, 58% of cancers were diagnosed at stage one or two, when they are easier to treat.

The NHS has made several efforts to catch cancer earlier, which include putting cancer awareness messages on urinal mats in pubs and football grounds and on underwear sold in Morrisons supermarkets.

Additionally, the NHS has utilised large double-decker buses that travelled to cancer hot spots around England to raise awareness of signs and symptoms and to encourage people to be checked.

The NHS lung health check programme alone has diagnosed almost 3,000 people with lung cancer, three-quarters of whom are at stage one or two.

Last year, the NHS pledged to eliminate cervical cancer by 2040 and set out plans to increase HPV vaccine and screening uptake to save thousands of lives annually.

Professor Peter Johnson, NHS England national clinical director for cancer, said: “Cancer detected at an early stage gives people a much better chance of successful treatment” by focusing “on early diagnosis and… innovative ways to reach and test people in the community.”

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