Service to save lives
NHS Borders has introduced a Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Service (RCDS).
The RCDS, which is based at the Borders General Hospital, specialises in detecting possible cancer in people whose symptoms are vague and do not fit within a specific cancer group such as lung, breast or colorectal. Unexplained vague symptoms include fatigue, loss of appetite, significant weight loss, and abdominal pain.
The introduction of the RCDS allows patients to access appropriate diagnostic testing and consultation within three weeks. Most patients who are referred to the service will not have cancer, and the aim of the service is to rule it out as quickly as possible.
The RCDS has already been successful in three other Scottish health boards – with around 12% of people referred being diagnosed with cancer, and a further 33.8% receiving a diagnosis of a non-cancerous health issue.
Where investigations at the RCDS clinic rule out cancer and instead reveal other medical causes for a patient’s symptoms, the person will be referred on to the most appropriate specialist pathway for the newly diagnosed non-cancer condition or discharged back to their GP.
However, if a diagnosis of cancer is made, patients will be immediately referred to the most appropriate cancer specialist team to determine a treatment plan.
Lynda Taylor, Macmillan Nurse Consultant and lead clinician in cancer at NHS Borders, said: “We are delighted to have launched our new Rapid Cancer Diagnostic Service in the Borders, as we know it will have a big impact on people who have unexplained and concerning symptoms, by improving timely access to the most appropriate care, support and treatment options for that person.
“We know that patients who have been referred to an RCDS pilot programme have hugely valued the speed of referral and diagnosis, as well as the personalised support provided – so we look forward to being able to provide similar help, support and reassurance to people living in the Scottish Borders.”