HomeLifestyleHealth & FitnessCancer screenings to become available in shopping centres and football stadiums

Cancer screenings to become available in shopping centres and football stadiums

As part of the health secretary Sajid Javid’s long-term plan to improve cancer prevention and diagnosis, cancer screening services will be made available in shopping centres and football stadiums.

Javid said it is his “national mission” to get cancer services to learn from the rapid scientific progress made during the coronavirus pandemic, as he said England needed to “go further” in improving cancer treatment, including looking into creating vaccines to treat the disease.

In a speech at the Francis Crick Institute on Friday to mark World Cancer Day, the cabinet minister announced a call for evidence on a new 10-year government plan as part of an effort to wage a “national war on cancer”.

Javid spoke of the personal pain his own family had gone through, losing his father to colon cancer, which spread to other parts of his body, including his lungs.

He said in his speech: “I lost my dad to this vicious disease, and I know all too well the grief and the heartbreak that this brings.

“This painful experience also pressed upon me that when it comes to cancer, there isn’t a moment to spare. Who knows? If he had been diagnosed a bit earlier, he may still be with us today.”

Javid said there are about 166,000 cancer deaths per year in the UK, in what he called a “daunting statistic”, with a person diagnosed with cancer every 90 seconds.

In a bid to reduce those numbers, the Conservative minister said he wanted to boost efforts to prevent cancer, with programmes to cut smoking, obesity rates and alcohol consumption.

Early diagnosis of cancers would also be vital in cutting the morbidity rate, the health secretary said, as he set the ambition of exceeding the NHS long-term plan for 75 per cent of diagnoses to be made at stage one and stage two by 2028.

“The majority of deaths from cancer come because we sadly catch it too late, like my father,” he said. Adding: “Detecting the disease early can save time, save money but, most importantly, can save lives.”

He said one-stop-shop community diagnostic centres being set up are predicted to produce two million scans in their first year of operation, while mobile trucks with diagnostic equipment on-board have already been rolled out with “phenomenal” results after successful pilots.

Mr Javid said the “we-will-come-to-you” approach had helped boost early diagnosis of lung cancer by 80 per cent, up from less than 30 per cent before the rollout.

Taking questions from reporters, he confirmed that he saw a future in which people take it upon themselves to get screened.

Asked whether people could potentially turn up to community diagnostic centres and ask for “scans on the spot”, Javid replied: “Yes. Not quite yet, because these one-stop-shops, these community diagnostic centres, we have just set up.

“They are going at a record pace – we have opened up I think 70 or so within a year, we are going to get to 100 certainly by the end of the year, maybe more, and as I mentioned 400,000 scans and diagnostics already.

“But I would like to see a future for many more referrals, that to get those scans that people need, that they don’t necessarily need to go through their GP.”

Javid said that while some centres could be attached to hospitals, others will be set up in shopping centres, football stadiums, telling reporters: “Things that people might go to for other purposes but the key is to have something as accessible as possible.”

The senior government figure added that he wanted to “explore every avenue for how vaccines can help us fight cancer”.

He said his three daughters had been vaccinated against cervical cancer, along with 80 million people worldwide, and that the HPV jab could help eradicate the cancer “in my lifetime”.

“Although it might be some way on the horizon, there is also the potential, I think, to develop vaccines for other forms of cancer too,” he said.

But he admitted it would be “difficult” as he pressed for research to be advanced in applying mNRA vaccine research to forms of cancer.

The 24-minute speech also saw Javid lay out plans to tackle inequalities in healthcare across the country and abolish disparities in diagnosis times.

He said the call for evidence will be used to inform a final strategy expected later this year, which ministers hope will make England’s cancer care system “the best in Europe”.

Launching on Friday and running for eight weeks, it is open to the public and seeks input from cancer patients, their relatives and NHS workers.

It comes after there were 50,000 fewer cancer diagnoses across the UK since the start of the pandemic, risking an increase in advanced cases which are harder to treat.

Additional reporting by PA

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