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Avoidable cancer delays

One in four cancer patients experienced a delay to their diagnosis that could have been avoided, according to a new study by Cancer Research UK.

The work is based on data from the national cancer registry of around 14,300 people diagnosed with cancer in England in one year.

It found that nearly 3,400 patients experienced a delay that could have been avoided.

Half of these patients waited around two months longer to be diagnosed than those who didn’t have an avoidable delay.

The reasons for delays are complex, but researchers on this study attempted to identify what could go wrong.

The study authors asked GPs to identify when the delay happened.

The data showed 13% of all avoidable delays happened before the patient saw their GP and 38% after the GP referred them to hospital.

The other half (49%) happened while the patient was being assessed by the GP surgery, including waiting for tests to be done and results to be sent back.

Long waiting times for tests were responsible for a quarter of avoidable delays. Cancer Research UK said this is an indication of a diagnostic staff shortage.  

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Image credit | iStock

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