Healthcare giant Bupa has launched a comprehensive self-referral cancer service, Cancer Direct Access – a solution that it hopes will lead to earlier diagnoses and faster treatment for patients.
Available to Bupa health insurance customers, the self-referral system enables an individual to speak with a member of Bupa’s Cancer Direct Access team – without needing to wait for a GP referral – if they are experiencing symptoms associated with cancer.
Depending on the outcome of the conversation, the individual may then have an appointment booked with a specialist consultant.
Using cancer guidelines laid out by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), the Cancer Direct Access team at Bupa can establish whether a person with cancer symptoms needs to be referred to a specialist.
The new service – which provides faster access to referrals for a range of different cancers, including stomach, lung, testicular and bladder – builds on Bupa’s already operational Direct Access service for breast and bowel cancer.
Bupa says that through Cancer Direct Access, the majority of customers who are referred to a specialist consultant will be seen within a week. Furthermore, if they are diagnosed with cancer, they would start their treatment within a month.
Research shows that cancer patients who are diagnosed early and treated sooner have a significantly greater chance of survival. In fact, if diagnosed while their cancer is at stage one, more than 80% of stomach cancer patients will survive for five years or more after they are diagnosed. However, if not diagnosed until stage two, this survival rate drops massively to less than 5%.
A ‘vital step’ for cancer patients
Speaking about the launch of Cancer Direct Access, Professor David Cunningham, Director of Clinical Research and Consultant Medical Oncologist at The Royal Marsden, said: “As an oncologist I treat patients who have been diagnosed with cancer at various stages and the prognosis for those who are diagnosed in the early stages of cancer are typically much better. Bupa’s Cancer Direct Access can help to boost the number of patients who are diagnosed and treated early – which is a vital step forward in cancer.”
One in two people in the UK will be diagnosed with cancer during their lifetime. The good news, though, is that survival rates are continuing to improve thanks in part to earlier detection. In addition to boosting an individual’s chances of survival, an early diagnosis can also reduce their need for complex and invasive treatment.
If an individual calls Cancer Direct Access with symptoms that are not covered by the service, they will be advised to see their GP. They can also receive on-the-spot clinical advice from a trained Bupa nurse – including things they should ask their GP, and information about additional support available from Bupa.
Customers who are diagnosed with cancer can access advanced treatments, breakthrough drugs and Bupa’s network of specialist cancer centres and hospitals. Furthermore, if clinically appropriate, patients also have the option to receive chemotherapy treatment administered by a specialist nurse in the comfort of their own home.
With early diagnosis and faster treatment having such an impact on an individual’s chances of surviving cancer, suitable insurance that includes comprehensive additional services such as this is a must.
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