Late Cancer Diagnosis ‘National Shame’

32 Per Cent Of People With Cancer Die Within A Year

02.05.2014

A new report has blasted the UK's efforts in reducing the length of time it takes for people to be diagnosed with cancer.

MacMillan Cancer's state-of-the-nation report has found that 32 per cent of people with cancer die within a year of being told they have a disease, with many patients arguing they were diagnosed far later than they should.

One in four people with cancer are currently diagnosed through an A&E visit, which means that malignant tumours have started to severely affect the body's ability to fight back against the disease.

Of those diagnosed in this way, death rates within a year double compared to those told they have cancer by their GP.

MacMillan also criticised the UK for having the lowest survival rates of four types of cancer - breast, lung, ovarian and colorectal - compared to five countries with similar health systems and wealth levels.

These five countries were Australia, Canada, Sweden, Denmark and Norway.

But it isn't just death rates that worry MacMillan, as those who have terminal cancer are often dying in ways they would not prefer.
Some 73 per cent of those surveyed said they wanted to die at home, while only 30 per cent were eventually able to do so, while 57 per cent did not have full pain relief in the last three months of their lives.

Ciaran Devane, chief executive of the charity, said: "Any notions that cancer care in the UK is 'fixed' are rubbished by our findings.

"While the NHS does amazing things every day, it is a national shame that our cancer survival rates are amongst the worst in Europe, that patients are being treated with a lack of dignity, or being denied a 'good' death."

Ms Devane added that the fact that more people are living longer with cancer does not mean they are being cured, with many needing specialist healthcare to keep them alive and in good health.

Expert Opinion
It is very concerning that such a high percentage of patients die within a year of being diagnosed with cancer due to the disease being in its advanced stages.

“Early diagnosis is crucial to ensure the maximum amount of treatment options, thus significantly improving the chances of survival for many types of cancer.

“These patients will be missing out on vital treatment because they are not being diagnosed quickly enough. Action is needed to ensure sufferers are given the best possible chance of beating their cancer.”
Mandy Luckman, Partner