Improvements made in early cancer diagnosis in Scotland
A woman is being spoken to by a doctor.

A report found more than one in ten patients seen by new cancer diagnostic services in Scotland have been referred for cancer treatment, helping to speed up treatment and improve outcomes.

It was published by the University of Strathclyde and the Centre for Sustainability Delivery, and acted as an evaluation into Scotland's first fast-track cancer diagnostic services.

They found that patients waited an average of 14 days from referral, to having cancer ruled in or out. As well as this, the report concluded almost 12 per cent of patients seen over the two year period were diagnosed with cancer. 

Around 6 per cent were given a pre-cancer diagnosis, meaning they require further monitoring in case a cancer develops, and the remainder were either given the all clear and referred back to primary care or diagnosed with other non-cancer conditions.

The Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Services, currently in place across five Health Board areas, were established with the aim to speed up cancer diagnoses for patients with non-specific symptoms such as unexplained weight loss, persistent nausea or fatigue, where the GP has a concern of a malignancy.

Over the two-year evaluation period the services saw around 2,500 patients, with more than 96 per cent of them giving the service a positive satisfaction rating of at least eight out of 10.

The report highlighted improvements in cost, quality of service compared to previous pathways, and a positive patient experience.

Health secretary Neil Gray said: "This positive evaluation of Scotland's Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Service provides valuable insight into their role in achieving vital earlier cancer diagnoses and improving patient care."

He said the report has shown a "pivotal role [NHS Scotland] can play in early cancer protection while delivering quality patient-centred care."

Before the fast-track services were introduced, patients that did not meet the Scottish referral guidelines for suspected cancer, or who presented with non-specific suspicious symptoms, would have to have a series of tests coordinated by primary care.