airedale nhsA fast track cancer centre at Airedale Hospital is set to revolutionise how symptoms of the disease are identified, diagnosed and treated.
The one-stop ‘shops’ are designed to give people with a range of potential but unclear cancer symptoms a definite answer - in some cases even on the same day.
Specialists will be able to carry out every type of investigation under one roof in a move designed to stop people suspected of having the killer disease being shunted around the NHS for months.
A host of symptoms, either singly or combined, can indicate a number of diseases including cancer.
Under the plans patients suffering fatigue, sweating or who feel generally unwell could be referred to the service.
The pilot scheme will also address the problem of patients facing long waits between a GP referral and seeing a cancer specialist.
The NHS target that patients start treatment within 62 days has not been met for more than two years.
Speed All investigations at the centres will be carried out within a fortnight of referral.
Experts say some could receive a diagnosis or the all-clear on the same day as their test. Others may require further investigation up to a maximum of 28 days.
The pilot scheme is co-ordinated by NHS England, Cancer Research UK and Macmillan Cancer Support and is being tested in 10 hospitals around the country.
Sara Hiom, of Cancer Research UK, said: "This is a first for this country. We are confident these pilot centres will give us a much better understanding of what is needed to speed up the diagnosis and treatment of people with less obvious symptoms, improve their experience of care and, ultimately, survival."
The scheme aims to ensure rapid diagnosis in tens of thousands of patients who may be struck down with cancer but do not display traditional "red flag" symptoms for a specific type of the disease.
In the past year more than 26,000 people waited more than two months for treatment to start after an urgent GP referral, including more than 10,000 who waited longer than three months.
Since the target was first breached in January 2014, more than 98,000 people have waited more than two months for treatment to start.
Lung cancer remains the top cancer killer in the UK, claiming the lives of almost 36,000 people a year, followed by bowel and colon cancer, which kills 16,000 people.
Prostate cancer kills 12,000 men and has overtaken breast cancer as the third most deadly variant of the disease. The centres are part of a plan to meet a new faster standard where all patients with suspected cancer receive a diagnosis or the allclear within 28 days.
The concept of a multidisciplinary diagnostic centre originated in Denmark.
NHS England, said: "Early diagnosis is crucial to saving lives and providing peace of mind, which is why we are driving forward plans to revolutionise our approach to cancer. "These new one-stop shops represent a real step change in the way people with unclear symptoms are identified, diagnosed and treated.”
As well as Airedale General Hospital, in Steeton, other centres are at the North Middlesex Hospital, University College London Hospital, Southend University Hospital, Queen's Hospital in Romford, Royal Free Hospital in north London, St James's University Hospital in Leeds, Airedale General Hospital, University Hospital of South Manchester, Royal Oldham Hospital and the Churchill Hospital in Oxford.

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