A doctor talks to her patient

More people are surviving cancer than ever before, but we know that we can save even more lives by catching more cancers early and starting treatment fast.

One in every two people in this country will be told they have cancer at some point in their lives.

Our NHS Long Term Plan aims to save thousands more lives each year by dramatically improving how we diagnose and treat cancer – our ambition is that by 2028, an extra 55,000 people each year will survive for five years or more following their cancer diagnosis.

This will include improving our national screening programmes, giving people faster access to diagnostic tests, investing in cutting edge treatments and technologies, and making sure more patients can quickly benefit from precise, highly personalised treatments as medical science advances.

What we will do

  • Lower the age for bowel screening, introduce new forms of cervical cancer screening and extend lung health checks as part of our ambition to have three-quarters of all cancers diagnosed at an early stage.
  • Create new Rapid Diagnostic Centres across the country so patients displaying symptoms of cancer can be assessed and diagnosed in as little as a day.
  • Introduce a new, faster diagnosis standard which will ensure that patients receive a definitive diagnosis or ruling out of cancer within 28 days.
  • Give people with cancer care that suits their needs with personalised care packages, giving patients more say over the care they receive.
  • Make sure that people can access more effective tests and treatments, from genomic testing to proton beam therapy, to help find more cancers before symptoms appear.

Putting it into practice – Michael’s story

Michael Brady, 64, was diagnosed with early stage lung cancer after having a scan while out shopping. “I wasn’t there long – only 20 minutes – and within a week I had an appointment at the hospital. This lung scan saved my life.”

Michael received the on-the spot-scan as part of a pilot programme that checked more than 2,500 smokers and ex-smokers, using lung cancer scanning trucks, that operate from supermarket car parks. The free health check discovered 46 cases of cancer. Of these, 80% were early stage one and two diagnoses. The pilot quadrupled the early diagnosis rates for lung cancer in Manchester.

The scheme, funded by Macmillan Cancer Support and the Manchester Clinical Commissioning Groups through the Macmillan Cancer Improvement Partnership, was rolled-out across the whole of north Manchester, an area which has the highest number of lung cancer deaths among the under-75s in England. It has proved so successful it is now being introduced across the country.

Find out more

Cally Palmer, NHS England and NHS Improvement National Cancer Director shares her thoughts on the NHS Long Term Plan and what it means for cancer.

Cally gives an overview of cancer screening programmes, the new 28-day faster diagnosis standard and the care and treatment options available. Cally also talks about the Targeted Lung Health Checks programme, one of the first programmes to roll out of the Long Term Plan.