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Hard work and innovation boosts cancer care across west Suffolk

This World Cancer Day (Friday, 4 February 2022) we're shining a light on healthcare staff across the region who are working phenomenally hard and using the latest innovations to help boost cancer care across the region.

Healthcare staff across west Suffolk are extending the hours they can offer screening or referral appointments, meaning patients are more able to access services at a time convenient to them and staff can see more patients.

At West Suffolk hospital the number of patients being seen for breast cancer services is increasing, so staff are offering Saturday appointments as one of the ways to increase the number of patients who can be seen.

Dr Emma Senior, consultant breast radiologist at West Suffolk hospital commented:

“After a pause in breast screening in the early part of the pandemic, our breast care team has worked incredibly hard to catch up on the backlog of women due to be seen. Around 20% of breast cancers are picked up by routine screening, so it’s really important that women come forward for screening when they’re invited. Our services are open and here for you.”

Women are also able to book evening and weekend appointments for cervical screening in GP surgeries across the area, helping more women to access this life-saving test at a time to suit them.

Dr Andrew Yager, a Botesdale GP and cancer lead for the NHS West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“This World Cancer Day we want to highlight what we’re doing to extend the hours we are offering appointments in GP surgeries for routine cervical screening. We want to make it as easy and convenient as possible for women to come forward to have these tests. We know it’s not something any woman looks forward to, but these are vitally important and by extending the hours women can come and see us, we hope more will attend.”

Residents of West Suffolk are also benefiting from the latest research and innovation in cancer detection and treatment.
From the beginning of 2022, some residents across Suffolk will be invited to take part in the NHS-Galleri study, which is piloting the use of a simple blood test to try and spot more than 50 cancers early on. The test checks for the earliest signs of cancer in the blood by finding chemical changes in fragments of genetic code that leak from tumours into the bloodstream. Nationally 165,000 patients are being recruited to find out how well these tests will work in the NHS. If successful, this could be a huge breakthrough for the early detection of a range of cancers.

Healthcare workers in the region have also begun harnessing artificial intelligence technology to help analyse changes to moles or lesions which could be a sign of early skin cancer. The ‘Skin Analytics AI’ technology uses digital imaging to aid detection and diagnosis.

Lead Cancer Nurse for our Trust, Karen McKinnon, said:

“Using this kind of artificial intelligence technology alongside our highly skilled teams is massively increasing the numbers of patients we can see and as such is reducing patient waiting times.”

Paul Molyneux, interim Medical Director for our Trust said:

“This World Cancer Day the theme is closing the gap on cancer care. Healthcare staff across West Suffolk are working extraordinarily hard to ensure that everyone who needs it has access to high quality cancer detection, treatment and care.
I would like to thank all our staff for their unwavering dedication and hard work through what has been a very difficult time for the NHS during the pandemic. Through hard work and innovation, we continue to strive to provide the best possible cancer treatment and care for our community.”

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This World Cancer Day we're shining a light on healthcare staff across the region.

This World Cancer Day we're shining a light on healthcare staff across the region.