'Scandal' of failed cancer patients

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Indy Lifestyle Online

Cancer patients are being diagnosed too late, given too little information about their illness and denied financial benefits worth more than £200m a year, a Commons committee has found.

Despite the investment of an additional £1bn in cancer services over the past five years, the NHS is still failing too many patients, the Public Accounts Committee said. Most patients are looked after better, but many are still let down, especially at the end of life. Half of all terminal sufferers die in hospital though four out of five would prefer to die at home or in a hospice.

The report highlights the plight of patients suffering from prostate cancer, which kills 10,000 men a year. Cases rose by 50 per cent between 1996 and 2001 because of improved awareness but funding has not kept pace. Edward Leigh, the chairman of the cross-party committee, called it unacceptable.He said: "Terminally ill patients are eligible for financial help but over three-quarters of cancer patients are not told this. This is scandalous. Cancer patients are missing out on an estimated £200m a year."

The report was based on a survey conducted in 2004 by the National Audit Office, the public spending watchdog, of 4,300 cancer patients in 49 NHS trusts.

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