Full Marks for Dumfries and Galloway Rapid Cancer Test Service

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DUMFRIES and Galloway’s Rapid Cancer Diagnosis Service (RCDS), launched in 2021, has had a great first year, according to a report published today.

NHS Dumfries and Galloway was one of three NHS boards in Scotland to launch a Rapid Cancer Diagnosis Service in May last year. Now, a report from the University of Strathclyde says the service’s first year has gone well – delivering effective and fast diagnosis for patients who may be in the early stages of cancer and who do not meet an existing site-specific cancer referral pathway.

General manager for acute and diagnostics Carole Morton says: “The key to treating cancer successfully is early detection. But the early symptoms of cancer, like nausea, loss of appetite, unexplained pain or weight loss, are non-specific – they can have many other causes as well.

“The Dumfries and Galloway RCDS produces a result very quickly for patients with this kind of symptom. If we find it isn’t due to cancer, we can reassure the patient, and potentially treat them if they have some other medical condition. If it is cancer, then we can start treatment early, and that gives the patient a much better outlook.”

The Dumfries and Galloway RCDS aims to take no more than seven days between referral by a GP or other health care provider and the delivery of a result to the patient.

But speed is not the only important benefit, patients said. The RCDS pathway also focuses on transparency – patients are given a named contact who provides them with more information about diagnosis, treatment and care. Speed and communication together led most patients to rate the service 8 out of 10 or higher overall. RCDS also performed well on clinical effectiveness and safety, the study found.

The project will not end here. In the second year, the university will look at effectiveness and efficiency in more detail – whether RCDS services perform better and use fewer resources than other ways of diagnosing cancer.

The full report is available online at https://www.nhscfsd.co.uk/media/qbbbt02s/rapid-cancer-diagnostic-service-interim-report.pdf