A quarter of all cancers found late

8 December 2010

According to a recent study, nearly a quarter of all cancer cases in England went undetected until patients were admitted to hospital in an emergency.

Figures from the National Cancer Intelligence Network were worse for sufferers of acute leukaemia and brain cancer. More than half of these were discovered at a critical stage.

Pensioners and those under 25 were the most likely to be diagnosed with cancer during emergency procedures, and similarly poor people were more likely to suffer from late detection than the rich.

The study was compiled by examining all patients diagnosed with cancer in England in 2007 and examining at what stage it was diagnosed.

The NCIN found huge differences between different cancer types - 3% of skin cancers compared to 58% of brain cancers going undetected until emergency stages.

The charity's chief executive, Harpal Kumar, said that the number of diagnoses made on emergency admissions was too high. He added that it explains why England has lower survival rates than the best countries in Europe.

He told the Daily Telegraph: "We need screening programmes to be rolled out as early as possible and GPs given rapid access to the tests that will enable patients to be moved quickly through the system."

Read/download the NCIN report here.

Updated: 8 December 2010