Prevention & early diagnosis programme

The Prevention and Early Diagnosis Programme supports the Macmillan outcome, 'I was diagnosed early'. This outcome was identified in Macmillan's Cancer in the UK 2014 State of the Nation report, as one of the nine biggest issues that matter most to cancer patients in the UK today.

Our work pioneers initiatives to ensure all people affected by cancer can recognise this outcome by 2030. It includes projects to help promote awareness of the benefits of earlier recognition, as well as improve referral and early diagnosis of cancer. We're also developing tools to help GPs and primary care professionals.

Significant Event Analysis (SEA) Toolkit

The cancer SEA toolkit and its resources have been developed by Macmillan, RCGP and NHS England to support GPs, practice staff and commissioners in conducting high quality cancer SEAs with the aim of improving patient outcomes in the early diagnosis of cancer.

Cancer SEAs prompt a GP to reflect on their diagnosis, and identify any potential improvements including issues with practice systems, hospital systems or cancer referral pathways. They can also encourage improvements in important areas such as proactive safety-netting.

Find out more and gain access to training resources and guidance, fictional examples of cancer SEAs and background information.

Top tips for GPs: Implementing NG12

This guide aims to support GPs who are involved in implementing the updated NICE NG12 guidelines for suspected cancer: recognition and referral. The guidelines were released in June 2015 and cover England and Wales. This guide includes top tips on how to develop local processes to implement the guidelines using relevant examples, the learning from which could apply to all four nations. It also sets out how Macmillan can support you throughout this process.

Download the guidelines [PDF].

Rapid Referral Guidelines

The Rapid Referral Guidelines [PDF] is a summary of the 2015 update of the NICE NG12 guideline for suspected cancer: recognition and referral, whose remit covers England and Wales. This interactive PDF, designed by GPs for GPs is organised by tumour site and is designed to provide practical support, guidance and referral recommendations. This toolkit supports all of the recommendations in the NICE guideline on suspected cancer: recognition and referral, apart from those relating to specific childhood cancers. For more information on this endorsement, please see the implementation section of the NICE website.

For GPs based in Scotland, the Scottish Referral Guidelines are available to download onto your computer, or via a mobile app.

Download the rapid referral guidelines:

An image of the rapid referral guidelines pack laid out on a desk

Cancer decision support (CDS) tools

The Cancer Decision Support (CDS) tool is designed to support GPs in their clinical decision making and encourage them to think cancer by displaying the risk of a patient having an as yet undiagnosed site-specific cancer. The risk is calculated via one of two algorithms and is based on read coded information from the patient file including symptoms, medical history and demographic data. For more information about the CDS tool visit our CDS webpage.

ACE programme

The ACE programme is an NHS England led early diagnosis of cancer initiative, supported by Macmillan and Cancer Research UK. The programme began in June 2014 and ‘Wave 1’ of the programme will run until late 2016. ‘Wave 2’ is expected to run until the end of 2017.

ACE seeks to develop the knowledge base on early diagnosis in order to identify and evaluate good practice, which can reduce system delays and improve early diagnosis of cancer. ACE supports the NHS outcome “preventing people from dying prematurely”.

The ACE programme:

  • Accelerates progress
  • Coordinates implementation
  • Consistently evaluates best practice and innovative approaches to early diagnosis of cancer.

For further information, please visit our ACE programme webpage

Alternatively, email

GP referral styles

The GP referral styles project looked at the different referral styles of GPs, then identified tools and interventions that support their style of referral. The project was piloted with GPs in Bedfordshire and Luton. We have written up the findings from the evaluation and are looking into ways in which we can share and utilise the learning to support GPs in the recognition and referral of suspected cancer. If you would like a copy of the project findings, please email us.