Check4Cancer End of Year Review

As 2021 draws to a close we are still in the grip of the pandemic and particularly its devastating impact on the non-Covid elements of healthcare, especially in cancer screening and diagnosis. This has left thousands of cancer patients going undiagnosed and untreated, we know that the earlier cancer is diagnosed and treated the better the outcome for the patient.

Amplifying the message of the cancer crisis in the UK

Professor Wishart, Chief Medical Officer at Check4Cancer has written a number of articles for The Spectator this year in which he details his concerns about the impact of successive Lockdowns on cancer treatment. In his article  ‘Lockdown and cancer- are we getting the full story? written this April, Professor Wishart comments that the UK government needs to address the cancer crisis and proposes a solution to re-thinking cancer care if we are to build Britain after Covid. We need to worry about avoidable cancer deaths just as much as we now worry about avoidable Covid deaths.

With an estimated three million people missing cancer screening appointments between April-August in 2020 alone, resulting in a backlog across cancer services, the effect of delays to cancer screening appointments ripples throughout the NHS as diagnostics are set back and treatment is held up.

This MayProfessor Wishart took part in a podcast with Kate Andrews from The Spectator on how clearing the backlog is not enough as pre-pandemic cancer services were poor with mediocre survival due to inadequate early cancer detection and a lack of access to optimal cancer treatment. Lessons must be learned to help cancer patients access faster, better care by reviewing our screening and diagnostic pathways.

Professor Wishart, along with a number of leading medical professionals was a signatory on the APPG Cancer Summit – Catch Up With Cancer – The Way Forward (#CatchUpWithCancer) paper which was presented to the Government this May to ask them to allocate funds to clear the backlog in cancer services. Cancer survival rates in the UK lagged behind many Western countries long before the pandemic and there are reports of an increase in patients with later-stage cancers due to delays to diagnosis and this will further reduce the UK’s mediocre survival rates. Professor Wishart wrote an article in Laing Buisson's Healthcare Markets this October in which he argues for a long-term cancer strategy that does more than just tackle the backlog.

Check4Cancer’s screening and diagnostic services in 2021

Throughout 2021 Check4Cancer has continued to provide cancer screening and diagnostic services to our patients in a Covid-secure manner. We provided a total of 28,426 appointments this year which was an increase of 127% from 2020, with 16,084 patients having cancer screening of which 12,082 patients used our at-home sample collection kits which cover lung, prostate, bowel, cervical, and breast cancers.

Our diagnostic pathway services treated 8,854 patients this year of which 5,109 were in our ‘One Stop Breast’ clinics and 3,645 in our skin diagnosis clinics. Our breast and skin diagnostic pathways continue to grow, and we plan to increase access to our prostate diagnostic pathway in 2022. 

MyCancerRisk wins ‘Innovation in Health Tech’ award in this year’s Laing Buisson Awards

This year, we launched an early cancer detection programme, called MyCancerRisk which is an online cancer risk assessment tool, developed by Check4Cancer, for companies with more than 1,000 employees. It consists of a single questionnaire, bringing together risk assessments for each of the six most common types of cancer in the UK – bowel, breast, cervical, lung, prostate and skin cancer. The purpose of the questionnaire is to identify those employees (and their dependents, aged 18+) at ‘higher risk’ of these cancers so that they can be referred to Check4Cancer for a personalised screening programme based on their risk and age. Evidence shows that this risk-based approach is the best way to pick up early signs of cancer, enabling appropriate screening and/or treatment to be accessed without delay.

In October the Board of Directors from Check4Cancer hosted a Round Table discussion at The Royal Society of Medicine in partnership with Laing Buisson on the eve of their ‘Acute Healthcare Conference’ on the 14th October. A group of key opinion leaders from across the healthcare sector met to discuss the early part of the cancer pathway, paying particular attention to cancer prevention, cancer screening, and risk-stratified screening.

LBAwards21 Winner Artwork Social Graphic Innovation in Health Tech

This November, MyCancerRisk won the ‘Innovation in Health Tech’ award at the prestigious 2021 Laing Buisson Awards which celebrates industry excellence at every level of healthcare. We are currently in discussions with three insurers on the adoption of MyCancerRisk into their Private Medical Insurance pathways.

Watch the highlights of the Laing Buisson 2021 Awards here.

Ambitious plans for 2022

As you might expect, we have ambitious plans for 2022 including the relocation of our genetic testing laboratory to a UK laboratory which will allow us to deliver more competitive pricing and faster turnaround times for our patients. Check4Cancer has completed the ‘Design and Technology Specification’ for a Skin App, and we will be building a prototype in quarter one next year. The Skin App will take high-quality digital images of skin lesions to augment our current skin cancer network and provide a remote digital option for our patients. In addition to our plans to expand our diagnostic services to current and new insurers, we are also designing a bowel cancer diagnostic pathway with direct access to colonoscopy for insured patients, and we already have interest from more than one insurer.

As 2021 draws to a close we are looking forward to some much-needed rest and relaxation over the festive period and look forward to a busy and productive 2022. We would like to thank all of our team, partner clinics, and supporters for their hard work over the course of 2021 in delivering our cancer services.