Cancer Waiting Times and Performance

There are a number of standards which measure NHS performance in the quality and timely delivery of cancer care:

Faster Diagnosis Standard

The Peninsula Cancer Alliance is implementing a new diagnostic standard for cancer that emphasises the importance of receiving a diagnosis or ruling out a cancer within 28days:

  • to speed up access to diagnosis for those with cancer so that patients can be offered treatment earlier.
  • to reduce stress and anxiety for those who are not diagnosed with a cancer

The introduction of the FDS will be supported by the Rapid Diagnostic service and principles which will be rolled out over the next five years, to make positive changes to service delivery, improve patient experience and outcomes.

2 Week Wait

This standard sets a time limit of two weeks to be seen by a specialist when referred urgently for further investigation. It measures the time from:

  • Urgent referral for suspected cancer to first outpatient attendance
  • Referral of any patient with breast symptoms (where cancer is not suspected) to first hospital assessment
  • Operational standard of 93%.

62 Days 

  • Maximum two months from urgent referral for suspected cancer to first treatment-operational standard of 85%
  • Urgent referral from an NHS Cancer Screening Programme for suspected cancer to first treatment - operational standard 90%
  • Consultant upgrade of urgency of a referral to first treatment - no operational standard as yet
  • Maximum 31 days from urgent referral to first treatment for acute leukaemia, testicular cancer and children’s cancers - monitored within the 62-day standard.

Not all patients will be seen and treated within these standards due to some being clinically unfit for treatment, through patient choice or through the complexity of some cancer pathways.

104 Days 

This is a quality improvement standard for managing 'long waiting' cancer patients on a 62-day pathway

Any cancer patients waiting 104 days or more from referral to the first definitive treatment should be reviewed to identify any avoidable non-clinical delays

An effective process should be in place to review such patient pathways and escalation approaches for delays which may have direct clinical significance and/or have resulted in a patient coming to harm due to those delays.

Further Information