New cancer guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) could save 5,000 lives in England each year.

NICE has introduced the new guidelines in a bid to improve cancer diagnosis and survival rates in the UK. GPs will be encouraged to think of cancer sooner and focus on key symptoms, rather than considering what type of cancer a patient may have and then cross referencing a patient’s symptoms to try and match them. The guidelines are intended to support GPs to recognise the signs and symptoms of different cancers and refer people more quickly for the right tests.

GPs will also have direct access to certain cancer tests, such as CT scans, without the need for specialist referral.

The UK’s cancer survival statistics consistently lag behind other European countries, with recent research by Cancer Research UK indicating that the lower cancer survival rates are linked to a shortage of testing equipment.

Kiran Jalota, a senior clinical negligence solicitor based in Thompsons Solicitors’ Birmingham office, said: “Through our work with victims of misdiagnosis, we know that a prompt and accurate diagnosis can save a life. Any delay in diagnosis is invariably detrimental to an individual’s treatment and, in the worst cases, fatal.

“Every year thousands of people lose their lives to cancer across the UK. If these guidelines can help save lives through improving the speed of diagnosis, we urge the government to support them. That has to mean proper resourcing to ensure NHS cancer services and GPs are in a position to carry out the new recommendations.”