Full body scanning for cancer patients prior to being given the 'all clear'

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We are petitioning to ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care to initiate an urgent review of the NHS standard practice around body scanning of cancer patients before giving a 'no evidence of active disease' or 'all clear' verdict following treatment.

We believe the review should include (but not be limited to) NICE Guidelines and the NHS's Long Term Plan ambitions relating to cancer.

The standard practice (specifically including the NICE Guidelines) need to be reviewed and updated as at present patients do not receive a full body scan before a 'no evidence' or 'all clear' discharge is given. Instead, only the areas where the cancer was originally detected are re scanned which allows greater opportunity for secondary cancers that may already be developing to be missed. This in turn leads to unnecessary patient suffering and avoidable cost to the NHS.

Its that simple!

We are using this petition as a gateway to try to secure a consolidated, meaningful conversation with the correct decision makers in the Department of Health and NHS.

We are completely cognisant that a review and change to the guidelines:

  • Will not stop people from developing secondary cancer (but will help them, in some cases, be spotted earlier);
  • Will not mean that all patients that have had a primary cancer require a full body check prior to being discharged (we just don't think the right process / guidelines / triage is in place to ensure that all people who need this are getting it at present);
  • May result in a plethora of diagnostic tools be used for the full body scan / check ... it may not only be a full body MRI.

The background:

Our dear friend Gemma was diagnosed with pelvic cancer in 2018, after a course of radiotherapy and chemotherapy she was given the all clear in January 2019.

The 'no evidence of active disease' verdict was given following the standard NHS procedure of re scanning the area the cancer was originally identified only as opposed to a full body scan which would detect any spread.

Unfortunately in August 2019 Gemma was diagnosed with secondary cancer in her spine (which has caused her vertebrae to collapse), liver and stomach. 

Had Gemma received a full body scan in January 2019 (before the 'no evidence of active disease' verdict), her secondary cancer may have been diagnosed much earlier which in turn could have changed the long term outlook for her. 

The secondary cancer is incurable and Gemma will undergo chemotherapy every 3 weeks from now until the cancer ultimately takes her life.

You can read more about Gemma's story here:

02nd Oct 2019 Daily Mail Article

22nd Nov 2019 YEP Article

11th Jan 2020 Daily Mirror Article

25th Feb 2020 YEP Article

23rd July 2020 Daily Mail Article

27th July 2020 BBC Article

31st March 2021 - YEP Article

02nd April 2021 BBC Article