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An article in The Times reported on a study that has found thousands of patients being diagnosed with cancer in accident and emergency (A&E) departments because they have not been able to see a GP. The study reported that of the 4,647 patients whose cancers were discovered in A&E, 29% had not seen a GP.
The study reported that the people who tended to be diagnosed in A&E with cancer were men, people from low-income families, and the elderly. The elderly, in particular, tended to “normalise” their symptoms. The article also reported on previous research that found around one fifth (20%) of the 357,000 cancer cases in Britain are picked up in A&E departments each year. However, the article also notes that cancers diagnosed in A&E departments are often advanced, thus reducing survival chances.
Commenting on the study, Helen Stokes-Lampard, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners said: “GPs take their role in diagnosing cancer as early as possible very seriously and we would urge patients who experience any concerning or persistent symptoms to book an appointment with their GP. Family doctors would be helped by increased access to new and improved diagnostic tools.”