MORE than half of pancreatic cancers are being diagnosed in an emergency – when chances of survival are much lower, NHS data reveals.
The same goes for brain tumours, with charities blaming the Covid crisis for further fuelling late diagnosis.
Experts warn early pick up of the disease is key in boosting outcomes.
Data shows that around three per cent of breast and eight per cent of prostate cancers are diagnosed in A&E.
But NHS stats show less survivable cancers – lung, liver, brain, oesophageal, pancreatic and stomach – are far more likely to be diagnosed late in emergency departments.
As a result, the average five year survival is just 16 per cent.
The Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce wants this number boosted to 28 per cent by the end of the decade.
It is calling for better awareness of common symptoms, including headaches, sudden weight loss, vomiting and loss of appetite.
Charities says better tests are also needed to ensure earlier pick up and better survival.
Anna Jewell, Chair of the LSCT, said: “We know that delays in diagnosis lead to much poorer outcomes for patients with these rapidly-advancing cancers.
“These cancers are currently difficult or impossible to treat at later stages and the time from diagnosis to death is often brutally short compared to more survivable cancers.
“The situation is critical and has been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
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The latest NHS data shows 53 per cent of pancreatic cancers were diagnosed in A&E, while for brain tumours it was 52.7 per cent, liver 44.9 per cent, lung 35.3 per cent, stomach 30.2 per cent and oesophageal 20.5 per cent.
More than 90,000 Brits are diagnosed with these six cancers annually, with around 67,000 dying.
Dr David Jenkinson, Interim CEO at The Brain Tumour Charity, said: “These worrying figures highlight that early detection remains a critical challenge for less survivable cancers including brain tumours.
“Through sustained investment in research and NHS care, we have seen great progress in early diagnosis and survival for many other health conditions in the last two decades, but this progress has unfortunately not yet been forthcoming for less survivable cancers and we need to act now.”
Britain has one of the worst survival rates in Western Europe, with experts blaming delays in diagnosis and lack of speedy testing for UK failings.
It led to NHS bosses setting new targets for better tumour detection to help slash cancer deaths.
Officials want three in four of all cases diagnosed early by 2030. Currently, only half are identified at stage one or two.
The 10 signs to never 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.
- Unexplained weight loss
- Unusual swellings or lumps such as in the neck, armpit, stomach, groin, chest, breast or testicle
- Coughing that is persistent and doesn't go away after three or four weeks
- Mole changes – look for any changes in the size, shape or colour of existing ones or new growths
- Blood in your poo or pee, or changes in your bowel habits
- Pee problems, such as dribbling or waking up in the night desperate
- Unexplained pain or pain lasting more than four weeks
- Heartburn that doesn't seem to go away
- Difficulties swallowing
- Heavy night sweats
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