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Young People 'More Likely' To Be Diagnosed Through A&E

People Aged Between 13 And 24 Are Three Times More Likely To Be Diagnosed Through A&E Than The General Population.

15.10.2013

A new report released earlier this week (October 13th) has shown young people are three times more likely to have their cancer diagnosed in A&E than the general population.

Research commissioned by the Teenage Cancer Trust has shown 37 per cent of people with cancer are diagnosed through admission to a hospital instead of by a GP. This is in contrast with a rate of 13 per cent in the wider population.

Of the 13 to 24 year-olds in this category, some 26 per cent had already been to see their GP and explained their symptoms but were rebuffed - often due to the fact the practitioner will rarely see cancer in younger people.

These figures have been released to mark the publication of the Improving Diagnosis report, which will coincide with Teenage Cancer Action Week.

Bosses at the Teenage Cancer Trust hope to educate GPs and young people alike to identify the hallmarks of cancer, which are often misdiagnosed as stress, anxiety, infections or sports injuries.

Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of the charity, commented: "We must improve the diagnostic experience of young people with cancer. We must empower young people to be persistent at the doctors if they’re not getting better and not wait until they have to go to A&E.

"If we all learn the signs of cancer in young people and share this information with friends and family, we can make a huge difference."

According to the Teenage Cancer Trust, the five most common signs of cancer in 13 to 24-year-olds are: pain, lumps, weight loss, extreme tiredness and changes in a mole.

To spread this message the foundation is attempting to get the #5signs hashtag to trend nationwide on Twitter.

While a certain number of hospital-based diagnoses are unavoidable, it is preferable that doctors identify cancer in its infancy, as if a patient is presenting with emergency symptoms, it may be the case that their malignancy has already developed to a more aggressive stage.

Expert Opinion
It is quite an alarming statistic raised regarding the amount of young people diagnosed in A&E with cancer rather than being diagnosed by the general practitioner.

“It is good news that figures like this are being highlighted and awareness around this situation is being raised.

“Failure to diagnose cancer at an early stage could literally be the difference between life and death so it is vital that concerns young people have regarding a diagnosis given are always carefully considered.

“Because practitioners rarely see cancer in young people it is easy to feel that symptoms could point to an alternative health issue. However it’s extremely important that young people especially between the age of 13 and 24 are receiving the best diagnostic experience so any symptoms can be targeted at the earliest possible stage.”
Lisa Jordan, Partner