The prime minister has announced a new cancer strategy for the NHS that will see patients diagnosed and treated faster to improve cancer survival rates.

Speaking at the Conservative party conference in Birmingham, Theresa May said the age for bowel screening would be reduced from 60 to 50.

She said the government plans to fund the new strategy through the NHS 70th “birthday present” and the strategy would be a “central part” of the long term plan for the NHS.

In June the government pledged to increase NHS England’s budget by an average of 3.4 per cent in each of the next five years, amounting to £4-4.5bn per year and that will be partly funded through tax rises.

“Through our cancer strategy we will increase the early detection rates from one-in-two today to three-in-four by 2028,” Ms May said.

“We will do it by lowering the age at which we screen for bowel cancer from 60 to 50,” she said.

Ms May also announced the government’s intention to build rapid diagnostic centres to “help people get treatment quicker”.

“By 2028, 55,000 more people will be alive five years after their diagnosis,” she added.

NHS England will introduce a new system of reporting cancer performance in December, which aims to better hold providers to account for waiting times where a cancer and diagnosis pathway is split across two organisations.