Integrated Care in Action Week

Date: 11 March 2020


Innovative Cancer Scan Service Leads to Faster Treatment - our blog

The Oxfordshire SCAN Pathway offers a quicker route to diagnosis of serious illness for people who turn up at their GP surgery with 'non-specific but concerning' symptoms. These could be unexplained tiredness or weight loss, which may or may not point to an undetected cancer or other condition. 

The Oxford Suspected CANcer Pathway has been developed over the past three years by a partnership of Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group and the Oxford Cancer Centre at the Churchill Hospital, with initial funding from Cancer Research UK as part of a joint national programme with Macmillan and the NHS.

So How Does it Work?

Its aim is to diagnose cancers earlier and start treatment more quickly, especially among the group of patients who don’t have obvious symptoms such as lumps, or specific symptoms such as a cough but know they don’t feel well, and may have lost weight or their appetite.

In the past they may have been through numerous outpatient clinics for tests until something is found (or not). This delay in diagnosis may have a negative effect on the outcome of their illness, is very stressful and time-consuming for the patient and expensive for the NHS.

The SCAN pathway allows the GP to refer a patient who meets the agreed and approved SCAN criteria and within two weeks they will be contacted by the SCAN navigator and arrangements made for a full body CT scan and very detailed blood tests and poo tests. The results are usually available within two weeks of the tests.

In addition to CT scans, for those who are eligible, patients will be referred on to an multi-disciplinary diagnostic centre appointment at the John Radcliffe Hospital where an experienced consultant will carry out further investigations to detect other illnesses, which have included heart conditions, Addison’s disease, hernias and even mental health problems. 

So How Successful is it?

To date (December 2019), over 1,000 patients have been referred via the SCAN pathway, with 145 found to have cancer (9.4% of patients who met the criteria for investigation) and were able to start appropriate treatment quickly.

Currently the Oxford SCAN model has been replicated across Trusts within the Thames Valley Cancer Alliance footprint.

The data collected has fed into the NHS England directive to roll out Rapid Diagnostic Centres across the whole country, and is another step to improving cancer survival rates.

Team Work is Rewarded

The SCAN team won the Improvement and Innovation category at the 2019 Oxford University Hospitals Staff Recognition Awards and is currently shortlisted for the BMJ   Awards, 2020

Dr Shelley Hayles, Planned Care and Cancer Clinical Lead at Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group, which now commissions the SCAN service, is thrilled that the team, including the dedicated clinicians and other staff, has been recognised for all their success in detecting cancer and other illnesses promptly in patients.  The team’s detection rate is higher than the national average which demonstrates how this partnership plays an important role in tackling cancer in Oxfordshire. 

Find out more about the work of the SCAN team here

  • Summary:

    Integrated Care in Action Week - our blog

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  • Date:
    11 March 2020