A new report supported by Cancer Research suggests that people aged 60 or over run an increased risk of being diagnosed with bowel or lung cancer during a hospital emergency compared to younger people. The report also suggests that the less affluent and women were also at a greater risk of an emergency lung cancer diagnosis. Researchers also found that single people which includes widowed, divorced or unmarried had a higher risk of emergency diagnosis of bowel cancer.
Emergency diagnosis has poor survival rates
The researchers examined twenty studies that included over half a million bowel or lung cancer cases where more than 200,000 cases were diagnosed following an emergency admission to hospital. In some cases patients were admitted after visiting a GP whilst others were admitted following a visit to the Accident & Emergency or Outpatient departments. The researchers were interested in understanding why so many people are emergency diagnosed, because such a diagnosis tends to have bad survival rates.
Few emergency lung cancer diagnosis patients survive more than a year
Approximately 25 per cent of bowel cancers and 40 per cent of lung cancers in England were emergency diagnosed during the time period between 2006 and 2010. Prior research suggests that just 11 per cent of lung cancer patients who were emergency diagnosed managed to survive for at least twelve months. This compares with 42 per cent of patients surviving at least a year when they were diagnosed following a GP referral. When it came to bowel cancer, the one year survival rate for emergency diagnosis was 49 per cent compared to 83 per cent for patients who had a GP referral.
“We need a better understanding of why some people are having their cancer diagnosis made via an emergency admission. This is important because we know that their survival chances are lower if people are diagnosed this way. This interesting review sheds some light on the factors that could be involved. We’re now funding further research on the subject and calling on the Government to ensure more cancers are diagnosed at the earliest possible stage because this can make such a difference for patients.” Sara Hiom, director of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK said.