Delays in reporting cancer diagnosis

Posted by Joanna Rzepecka, 22nd January 2018
A recent article in The Times has highlighted the delays in reporting the diagnosis of certain types of cancer, which in some cases can negatively influence a patient’s chances of recovery.

I was initially astonished to read that these delays, experienced by a fifth of cancer patients, were avoidable, and that a quarter of patients had to wait more than three months for their diagnosis caused only by backlogs in reporting the results and long waits for appointments.

The article reported that that survival rates in Great Britain are still far behind Europe and the delays in diagnosis are the main cause of this.

Research carried out by Newcastle University and partially funded by Cancer Research UK set to find out why patients had to wait so long for their diagnosis.  The research found out that majority of the delays seemed to take place after patients were referred by GPs for further investigations. It was estimated that waiting time on average is 40 days from seeing their GP to being given the diagnosis. However, a new 28 days target is going to be introduced this year, I read in the same article.

The researchers from Newcastle University came to the conclusion that more investigations should be carried out after the GP’s referral. One of the authors of that research, Professor Rubin, warned that ”there is growing evidence for delays having adverse effects on outcomes for cancers”.  The longer the delay is, the more advanced is the cancer at the time when treatment is commenced and therefore the chances of better recovery are affected.

Professor Rubin said that improvement in this area is highly desirable, as it will help to improve the survival rate and ultimately reduce the longer term burden on the NHS as the prognosis will be better.

Although the research found failures in the process of delivering cancer diagnosis, it has identified the cause of delays and the areas for improvement.  It is hoped that now changes will follow which will be beneficial to everyone going forward, to eliminate unacceptable delays in diagnosis.

If you have been impacted by a delay in diagnosis, get in touch to find out how our team of experts can help you.

Read the full article in The Times here.

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