Meeting this ambition for two consecutive months follows targeted support for NHS trusts to reduce variation across the country. This includes initiatives such as FIT tests – a home test kit to collect a small poo sample to be sent to a lab – which is speeding up diagnosis for patients with bowel cancer, targeted lung health checks in high incidence areas to diagnose lung cancers at an earlier stage and teledermatology to speed up diagnosis of skin cancer.


Almost 23,000 people (75.4%) referred or screened for cancer in the region received a diagnosis – or had cancer ruled out – within four weeks, meeting the national ambition.


Alongside ensuring patients get a timely cancer diagnosis, the NHS has been focused on bringing down the backlog of patients waiting for diagnosis or treatment that built up during the pandemic.


Latest data for the East of England shows that the number of patients in the region waiting longer than 62 days by the end of March fell by more than a third (37%, or by 1,223 patients) when compared to the end of April last year.


Over the last year (April 2023 – March 2024), almost a quarter of a million people in the East of England (247,878) received a cancer diagnosis or had cancer ruled out by the NHS within four weeks.


This progress on cancer waits across the region comes alongside significant demand for urgent and emergency care, with latest data showing the busiest ever April for both A&E attendances (230,133) and admissions (57,418).


Adam Cayley, Regional Chief Operating Officer for the NHS in the East of England, said: “We know how important it is for anyone referred for an urgent cancer check to get a quick diagnosis to ensure they get the right care as soon as possible, or have cancer swiftly ruled out. That’s why it’s encouraging that the East of England has met the 28-day faster diagnosis target for the second month in a row.


“Our thanks go to the hard work of NHS staff across the region. We have also seen the numbers of those waiting the longest for cancer care continue to fall, despite continued significant demand.


“We are committed to building on this progress, focussing on our vital screening programmes and targeted checks to catch cancers earlier.”


Dr Pete Holloway, GP Cancer Lead, East of England Cancer Alliance, said: “We know from our patients that waiting for news following an urgent referral from your GP can be a worrying time, so in the East of England we are determined to work together with local NHS partners to continue making improvements to the speed at which diagnosis or ruling out cancer can be achieved. We are encouraged by the progress being made so far and are continuing to strive to improve all areas of cancer services across our region.


“As always, we urge people to come forward if they have signs or symptoms that they may be concerned about. It’s best to check as the earlier cancer is diagnosed, the better the treatment outcome. Earlier cancer diagnoses can save lives.”




Notes to editors


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