An article in The Times reports that least a fifth of cancer patients had avoidable delays in diagnosis that could have harmed their chances of recovery, according to a study by researchers at Public Health England and published in the British Journal of General Practice.
In an audit of 17,000 cancer patients to find out why patients in Britain had to wait so long to find out they have cancer, a quarter of patients were reported to have waited more than three months for a diagnosis. Backlogs in getting test results, long waits for appointments, and red tape were some of the reasons given for the delay. The study also found that men with prostate cancer waited four times as long for a diagnosis as women with breast cancer.
Delayed diagnosis is thought to be one of the key reasons why Britain’s cancer survival rates lag behind the best in Europe. The average patient took 40 days from seeing a GP to be diagnosed, well above the target of 28 days that is to be introduced next year. Most of this delay came after a GP had referred patients to hospitals.