There are around 280,000 new cancer diagnoses in England every year and this is set to increase substantially. Cancer survival has increased, but the NHS in England is under considerable pressure as the ’62 day wait’ target (for people to start their treatment after they’ve been referred for suspected cancer) has been breached for over two years.

As part of Cancer Research UK’s research, they used anonymised, aggregated health information from many sources including waiting times data, diagnostic imaging data and hospital episode statistics to understand current activity;  model future demand for diagnostic tests and understand how to meet it.

This report fed into the cancer strategy for England and was used as the basis for a Cancer Research UK campaign ‘Test Cancer Sooner’, which gathered 24,600 signatures. In September 2015, the Department of Health announced up to £300 million more per year by 2020 for diagnostics, and Health Education England committed to training 200 extra endoscopists. Cancer Research UK are now waiting to hear more about how this funding will be spent in the NHS.

Health services research like this allows us to understand the problems facing people affected by cancer – and importantly, how they could be addressed. 

This enables us to make targeted, evidence-based recommendations to the Government and the NHS, which ultimately helps us achieve our goal of beating cancer sooner. Policy perspective