Poor survival for patients diagnosed with cancer in London A&Es

Only 36% survive for more than a year, highlighting the need for early detection, say researchers

One in four patients diagnosed with cancer at London emergency departments die within two months, research has shown.

The average survival time for patients diagnosed with cancer at a London A&E was less than six months, and only 36% survived beyond a year, according to a study by London Cancer, a partnership that works to improve the health outcomes and experiences of people with cancer. 

The study reviewed the cases of around 1,000 patients diagnosed after attending one of 12 emergency departments in north east and central London and west Essex in 2013. It found half of those aged under 65 died within 14 months of diagnosis, half of those aged 65-75 died within five months, and among patients aged over 75, half died within three months. 

The findings were presented at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool this week. Charles Swanton, chair of the conference, said cancers diagnosed as an emergency presentation are more likely to be advanced and that this is a problem not just in London but across the country. 

Study author Kathy Pritchard-Jones 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. Many of the patients diagnosed through A&E have other health conditions that may complicate their treatment.

‘We need to find ways to diagnose patients earlier and through managed pathways. This is crucial to improving the UK’s cancer survival to the standard of comparable countries.’




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