Strength in Numbers dedicated to my late mother Kay

52,000 cancer cases a year are spotted too late: Delays blamed on ‘stiff upper lip’ mentality and pressure on GPs not to refer patents for costly tests

Half of all cancer cases are spotted at a late stage when treatment is less likely to be successful, experts have warned. They calculate that more than 52,000 patients a year are having their odds of survival cut because the disease is not being caught quickly enough. The shocking figure is based on huge variations in diagnosis around England, with some cancers almost five times as likely to be diagnosed late in some parts of the country as others. Lung cancer is the most likely to be spotted late – with fewer than one in four cases caught early. Late diagnosis is blamed on factors from a ‘stiff upper lip’ to GPs under pressure not to refer patients for costly tests. Cancer Research UK, which commissioned the analysis of NHS data, said that early diagnosis is ‘crucial to give patients the best chance of survival’. Delays in treatment can not only be deadly, but can also mean patients are subjected to much more aggressive treatments than would have been necessary earlier in the disease’s progress.

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