Treating Cancer On The NHS

In the UK, most patients are treated by the NHS when they are diagnosed with cancer. The NHS offers a comprehensive range of treatments for cancer which are available to patients nationwide.

There are many different treatments that patients can receive for cancer depending on the type of cancer that they are diagnosed with and how advanced that cancer is. In all cases, however, the aim of the treatment is to ensure all cancerous cells are removed in order to reduce the chances of the cancer returning. If just a single cancerous cell is not removed from the body, it could create a fresh tumour so complex therapies are often required to give the patient the best chance of survival.


Commonly surgery is the first port of call when treating a patient for cancer, however there are several different kinds of surgery which can be carried out depending on the type of cancer the patient has been diagnosed with and the stage of the cancer. The surgery will remove the tumour as well as some healthy tissue that surrounds is. This tissue will then be sent for analysis to the laboratory to determine whether any additional chemotherapy or radiotherapy is required.


Chemotherapy uses powerful medicine to kill the cancer cells, either in the form of a tablet, an infusion or an injection. There are over 100 kinds of chemotherapy medications used to treat the many forms of cancer.


Sometimes called radiation treatment, radiotherapy treats several kinds of cancer. If given to the outside of the body it is carried out using x-rays, while if it is carried out inside the body, it uses a liquid which is either injected or swallowed. Sometimes, it can be carried out by putting radioactive materials close to or inside the tumour.

Hormone Therapies

Sometimes known as endocrine therapy, hormone therapy lowers the body’s hormone levels or stops their effect on the body. Some cancers like breast cancer and prostate cancer require hormones like progesterone, oestrogen or testosterone in order to grow.

Biological Therapies

Biological therapies affect the processes inside the cells to stop the cancerous cells from growing and dividing. They can find and destroy cancer cells and help the body’s immune system, encouraging it to attack the cancer cells. Interleukin and Interferon are two of the immunotherapy treatments which are commonly given on the NHS to give the immune system a boost when treating some forms of cancer.

Bone Marrow And Stem Cell Transplants

These treatments are often available on the NHS to treat lymphoma and leukaemia.

Alternative and Complementary Therapies

Although complementary and alternative therapies cannot cure cancer, they are sometimes used alongside traditional treatments to improve quality of life by reducing side effects and symptoms. Herbal medicines, acupuncture, yoga and massage therapies are just some of the complementary therapies which may be offered.

How Long To Receive Cancer Treatment On The NHS?

When patients are relying on the NHS for cancer treatment they will have to wait for tests, for test results and then for appointments in order to begin treatment. Although Cancer Research UK says that most cancers grow slowly and therefore waiting times should not affect the effectiveness of the treatment once it begins, waiting can result in mental health problems such as anxiety and depression.

How Does The NHS Diagnose Cancer?

If a patient visits their doctor presenting with a suspected cancer, they will be referred for tests to confirm its presence. Once cancer has been diagnosed, the patient will then be referred for further testing in the form of ultrasounds, MRI scans or CT scans so that the doctors will be able to obtain all of the relevant information about the patient’s cancer such as how big it is and whether or not it has spread.

There will be a waiting time for these tests followed by a further wait for the results since specialists doctors have to examine the scans and draw up reports. Once these reports are received by the patient’s cancer specialist the form of treatment is decided upon and appointments are arranged for treatment to begin.

At the present time, the government’s NHS wait time targets for patients to begin their cancer treatment is no longer than 62 days following the hospital’s receipt of an urgent referral and no longer than a 31 day wait between the agreement of a treatment plan and the treatment beginning.

If you have faced undue delays in commencing your treatment or received incorrect or unsatisfactory treatment due to a cancer misdiagnosis you should contact us today. We can help you to get the compensation you deserve in respect of your pain and suffering.