LIFESTYLE

Women To Receive 'Three-In-One' Breast Cancer Tests To Speed Up Diagnosis

Patients will receive three key tests in a single hospital visit.

16/06/2016 10:51

Women who may have breast cancer will soon be offered a three-in-one test to speed up diagnosis, the NHS watchdog NICE has said.

Under revised standards, NICE has called for women to receive an examination, scan and biopsy in one day.

Currently, women who have been referred by their GP for breast cancer testing sometimes have to wait days or even weeks between each test. 

"Having all three in a single visit will help ensure people get a faster diagnosis and be a more efficient use of resources," the watchdog said.

Caiaimage/Rafal Rodzoch via Getty Images

Professor Gillian Leng, deputy chief executive and director of health and social care at NICE said: “Breast cancer is the most common form of cancer in women in England, and around one in eight women will develop breast cancer at some point in their lives.

"That’s why it’s important that we have clear standards in place to reflect national priorities for improvement, promote best practice and help all those involved in delivering services to provide the very highest levels of care."

As well as proposing to cut down diagnosis time, the new standards also outline improvements in the quality of care women will receive, particularly those with secondary breast cancer (when cancer has started in the breast, but then spread to another part of the body).

These patients will now have their treatment managed by a "multidisciplinary team" and be assigned a key worker to ensure they receive the support they need. 

Women with recurring breast cancer will also have additional tests to reassess their hormone status after repeat diagnosis.

Commenting on these changes, Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: "If enacted, NICE’s new quality standard will be a positive step towards better treatment and care for breast cancer patients.

"Ensuring we reassess a patient’s hormone status when their cancer returns and spreads is absolutely the right thing to do.

"Similarly, it’s really encouraging that the unique needs of women diagnosed with secondary breast cancer are to be recognised as a national priority."

Baroness Morgan also said the concept of a one-step clinic represented "major progress" if it actually happens, but she's sceptical about whether it will be rolled out across the country.

"This promise has been in guidelines for many years and questions must be asked about why hospitals haven’t been able to deliver this for all patients to date," she said.

"These steps would reduce the number of hospital visits for patients, amid a difficult wait for a confirmed diagnosis."

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