Quarter of cancer patients diagnosed in A&E die in two months, researchers warn

Those who see their GP and are diagnosed promptly are more likely to survive

Samuel Osborne
Tuesday 03 November 2015 00:48
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Cancer patients who are too ill to work stand to lose up to £120 a month in Government support
Cancer patients who are too ill to work stand to lose up to £120 a month in Government support

A quarter of patients diagnosed with cancer in London A&E departments are dead within two months, according to new research.

Experts found people diagnosed in an emergency tend to have cancer that has spread around the body, as well as forms which were harder to treat.

Those who see their GP with concerns and are diagnosed promptly are more likely to survive than those who don't.

The new study, presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) cancer conference in Liverpool, analysed data from almost 1,000 patients diagnosed at 12 A&E departments in north-east and central London and west Essex during 2013.

It found the average survival was less than six months for the overall group of patients, with only 36 per cent still alive one year after diagnosis.

Younger people were more likely to survive than older patients. Half of all patients under 65 had died after 14 months, while among 65-75 year-olds, half had died within five months. Only a quarter made it past one year.

For those aged over 75, half died within three months.

Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones, the study's lead author, said: "These shocking figures hammer home what we already know to be true: early diagnosis can make a huge difference in your chances of surviving cancer.

"Around a quarter of all cancer cases are being diagnosed following presentation in A&E and the vast majority of these are already at a late stage, when treatment options are limited and survival is poorer.

"And many of the patients diagnosed through A&E have other health conditions that may complicate their treatment."

Britain has the worst cancer survival rate in Western Europe, according to the Telegraph.

Earlier this year, researchers at Oxford University found other countries with a similar set-up to the UK had GPs which were more likely to refer patients for urgent tests, leading to higher survival rates.

Additional reporting by Press Association

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