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Warning as 1 in 3 deadly cancers are diagnosed too late ‘slashing survival rates’


MORE than a third of major cancers are being picked up in A&E – when chances of survival are much lower.

A major report warns patients were more likely to get a late diagnosis in the UK than comparable nations such as Australia, Norway and Canada.


Too many patients are being diagnosed with cancer when they get to A&E[/caption]

But New Zealand’s detection was poorer, with the most emergency presentations.

Experts fear the pandemic has made matters worse, and said the NHS needs to get better at spotting cases early to help boost survival.

The International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership analysis found countries with higher levels of emergency presentations had worse outcomes.

For every 10 per cent increase in A&E cases, one-year survival dropped by up to seven per cent.

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Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The UK is already lagging when it comes to cancer survival.

“This study helps us understand why, showing that countries with higher levels of emergency presentations have lower survival.

“If we want to build a world-class cancer service, we need to learn from comparable countries and ensure fewer patients are being diagnosed with cancer after an emergency referral or trip to A&E.”  

The study, published in The Lancet Oncology, looked at 857,068 patients diagnosed between 2012 and 2017 in six nations.

It included oesophageal, stomach, colon, rectal, liver, pancreatic, lung and ovarian cancers.

University College London researchers found 37 per cent of patients in England and 38.5 per cent in Scotland were only picked up after being rushed into A&E.

It compares to 26.1 per cent in Ontario, Canada, 35.2 per cent in New South Wales, Australia, and 36.5 per cent in Norway.

Experts warn timely pick up of the disease is key in boosting outcomes.

Ministers have pledged that three in four of all cases diagnosed early by 2028.

Currently, only half are identified at stage one or two.

Lead researcher Professor Georgios Lyratzopoulos, from University College London, said: “Getting better at preventing cancer, detecting it through screening, or diagnosing it soon after symptoms appear can help decrease emergency presentations and reduce cancer deaths.”

Earlier this year, Sajid Javid pledged to make UK cancer survival the “best in Europe” after declaring war on the disease.

The Health Secretary wants a radical ten-year plan to speed up detection and boost outcomes.

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An NHS spokesperson said the proportion of cancer patients diagnosed through A&E has been “falling steadily” since the period covered by the study.

They added: “NHS staff have been referring more people for urgent cancer checks over the last 11 months than ever before with more than 200,000 patients checked in January alone, so please come forward if you have symptoms.”

The 10 cancer signs never to ignore

There are over hundreds of different types of cancer.

While some symptoms are specific, there are a handful that are more general or seen most frequently in cancer patients.

If you have any of these symptoms, it does not necessarily mean you have the disease.

But it’s always worth checking with your GP as soon as possible.

  1. Unexplained weight loss
  2. Unusual swellings or lumps such as in the neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle
  3. Coughing that is persistent and doesn’t go away after three or four weeks
  4. Mole changes – look for any changes in the size, shape or colour of existing ones or new growths
  5. Blood in your poo or pee, or changes in your bowel habits
  6. Pee problems, such as dribbling or waking up in the night desperate
  7. Unexplained pain or pain lasting more than four weeks
  8. Heartburn that doesn’t seem to go away
  9. Difficulties swallowing
  10. Heavy night sweats

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