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The Suspected Cancer Pathway (SCAN), which aims to speed-up cancer diagnosis for patients with non-specific symptoms, has been recognised with the Improvement and Innovation Award at the OUH NHS Foundation Trust Staff Recognition Awards.

Funded by Cancer Research UK, Macmillan Cancer Support, and NHS England, The SCAN Pathway was piloted in Oxfordshire as a new approach to the rapid access to testing and specialist assessment across multiple cancer types.

The project has been developed by Dr Brian Nicholson with cancer research colleagues in the Nuffield Department of Primary Care Health Sciences and in partnership with clinicians, researchers, commissioners, and health care professionals from the Oxford Clinical Commissioning Group and the OUH NHS Foundation Trust.

SCAN allows all GPs in Oxfordshire to refer patients aged 40 years or over if there is no other urgent referral pathway available, and if they are concerned about cancer or serious disease following a face-to-face consultation for a range of non-specific symptoms. People who visit their GP with vague symptoms often do not meet the criteria to be referred for tests and so can experience long delays before they are diagnosed.

These symptoms include: unexplained weight loss, severe unexplained fatigue, persistent nausea or appetite loss, new atypical pain, or unexplained results from a laboratory test. GPs may also refer if they have clinical suspicion of cancer or serious disease, or a 'gut feeling’ that their patient warrants investigation.

All patients referred to SCAN undergo a broad panel of laboratory blood and faecal tests and low-dose Computed Tomography (CT) imaging of the chest abdomen and pelvis. Depending on the results, they may then be referred to the SCAN clinic, where clinicians with expertise in evaluating non-specific symptoms evaluate them in more depth – they’ll be guided through the process by a specialist radiographer, known as the SCAN navigator. Depending on the results of the initial tests, the patient may otherwise get a rapid referral to another cancer pathway, or for a different serious disease.

This award recognises an incredible amount of co-operation across multiple clinical specialities and a dedication from the SCAN team to develop new ways of working to provide high-quality care for people with these symptoms. 
Dr Brian Nicholson, University of Oxford

Read more about the project


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