New Year, New Patient Backlog: RT in the UK

In 2021, reports showed that cancer patients wait up to 62 days for the first dose of radiotherapy treatment in the UK. The numbers of cancer patients facing these delays have hit record highs over the last year. Just last month, NHS Wales reported that numbers on waiting lists for non-urgent hospital treatment in Wales have hit record levels again. In November 2021 alone, nearly 700,000 Welsh patients waited for proper care from a medical specialist. (BBC News) With these factors in mind, this article will investigate:

  • The current gravity of the UK’s patient backlog.
  • How treatment delay affects mortality. 
  • Same-day treatment opportunities with the guideline-based AI segmentation, GBAIS™, solution 

How many patients will wait for cancer care in 2022?

As of November 2021, half of the women in the UK with suspected breast cancer have to wait longer than the targeted time. To make matters worse, the number of patients waiting too long has quadrupled in just two months to nearly 2,4000. Overall patient backlog in the UK has increased to 6 million, and the number of patients waiting for specialized treatment for over two years increased to nearly 20,000 (Flinders, Sophie). Furthermore, over 48% of patients were not seen as quickly as they should have been (Wooller, Shaun).

This graph represents the number of patients waiting over 62 days for the first dose of cancer treatment in the UK: Image Credit: Nuffield Trust (Flinders, Sophie).

How does waiting time affect mortality?

The increased waiting times in the UK are much more alarming when considering how waiting times affect patient survival rates. Delayed treatment and increased waiting times are some of the primary factors affecting patient mortality. Along with these, postponements in cancer are known to cause increased patient distress. In 2020, the NHS and other academic researchers in the UK and Canada sought to quantify just how delays in treatment affect patients and their mortality. The researchers found correlations in delay and increased mortality significantly in over 76% of all indications. Furthermore, the overall survival rate of patients with delayed surgery and radiotherapy was increased by a timeframe as short as a four-week delay (Hannah, Timothy P, et al).

This image is a visualization of the findings on the study discussed. Image credit: The BMJ (Hannah, Timothy P, et al)

The Solution: Same-Day Treatment Opportunities With MVision AI

At MVision AI we believe that cancer should not be a death sentence. We developed our guideline-based AI segmentation, GBAIS™, software to streamline your radiotherapy workflow. With the help of MVision AI clinics, like Docrates, have provided same-day treatment (the first dose of radiotherapy on the same day of the initial CT/MRI scan). To meet the UK’s growing need for timely, consistent, and quality cancer care, we developed our lung SABR model. Our advanced lung CT model follows the British SABR protocol. Our Lung SABR Model was created and curated with experts for seamless integration into your radiotherapy workflow. This helps to decrease the planning workload while producing consistent contouring results.

Here is a sneak-peek preview of our Advanced, Lung CT, SABR Model.

Are you eager to explore GCAIS™? Request a demo here. 

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Flinders, Sophie. “NHS Performance Summary: November – December 2021.” The Nuffield Trust, 14 Jan. 2022,

Hanna, Timothy P, et al. “Mortality Due to Cancer Treatment Delay: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis.” BMJ, 2020, p. m4087., doi:10.1136/bmj.m4087.

“NHS Wales: Record Waiting Times for 19th Successive Month.” BBC News, BBC, 20 Jan. 2022,

Wooller, Shaun. “Waiting Times for Breast Cancer Checks Quadruples in Just Two Months.” Daily Mail Online, Associated Newspapers, 18 Jan. 2022, 

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