New diagnostic centres aimed at speeding up the detection of cancer have been launched.
Three Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres (ECDC), based within existing NHS facilities, will seek to pick up cancer earlier where patients do not meet referral guidelines.
They will help to provide GPs with alternative routes to urgently refer patients who have non-specific symptoms suspicious of cancer.
These could include weight loss, fatigue, pain and nausea, or where the doctor’s instinct is that cancer may be involved.
Clinics are currently running in NHS Dumfries & Galloway, with the first one held on May 24, whilst Fife opened on June 7.
They are to be followed by NHS Ayrshire & Arran on June 21.
Health secretary Humza Yousaf said that the centres reinforce the Government’s commitment to improving the experience and outcomes of cancer patients in Scotland.
“The establishment of our first Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres within the first 100 days of this new term marks a radical change to the patient experience of being tested for a suspicion of cancer and will improve the detection of cancers at an earlier stage,” he said.
“This person-centred service will mean better care for patients, reducing the number of hospital visits they might otherwise need, preventing them having to repeat diagnostic testing and improving outcomes.
“While the centres will have a wider health benefit in identifying other, serious health conditions, the focus remains on finding cancer as early as possible when it’s easier to treat.
“The centres reinforce our commitment to improving the experience and outcomes of cancer patients in Scotland and build on the progress of our £43m Detect Cancer Early Programme.”
Lorraine Sloan, strategic partnership manager at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “We welcome the introduction of the Early Cancer Diagnostic Centres. Getting referred for tests to check for cancer can be a worrying time.
“These centres should help people navigate their way through and get support quickly too.
“For those who do get diagnosed with cancer we know this can affect people physically, emotionally and financially, so early support is vital to ensuring people’s wider needs are met.
“Anyone concerned about cancer or who has been diagnosed with cancer can get support from Macmillan Cancer Support on 0808 808 00 00.”