The statistics, published last week by the National Cancer Registration and Analysis Service, reveal that during Q3 2017/18, 19% of patients were diagnosed as an emergency, for example in Accident and Emergency, compared to 18.1% across England as a whole1.
When a cancer is diagnosed through an emergency route, it has usually progressed to a late stage when the symptoms are more severe. Cancers found at a late stage tend to be more difficult to treat, meaning the chances of survival are lower. Around three in 10 cancers diagnosed through an emergency route are found at stage four (the latest stage) 2.
According to the data, North Kirklees CCG has the highest emergency presentation rate in England at 27.6%, followed closely by Hull where 26.3% of patients were diagnosed through an emergency route.
Some cancers are more likely to present as an emergency than others. For example, nearly half of all lung cancers and a quarter of bowel cancers are diagnosed in an emergency situation, compared to just two in every 100 malignant melanoma (skin cancer) cases2.
Dr Stuart Griffiths, Director of Research and Services at Yorkshire Cancer Research, said:
Although emergency presentations are gradually declining over time, the data shows there is still lots of work to be done to tackle this issue.
It’s essential that people feel empowered to look after their own health and wellbeing; that they can recognise the early signs and symptoms of cancer and know when to see their GP. It’s also important that people take part in screening when invited so that if they do have cancer, it’s more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage. We also need to support GPs in identifying symptoms and either carrying out or referring patients for further testing.
Yorkshire Cancer Research is working in communities across the region to raise awareness of cancer and encourage participation in the national screening programmes for bowel, breast and cervical cancer. The charity recently announced a £2m investment to drive cancer prevention and early diagnosis strategies in partnership with Leeds City Council and the Leeds Cancer Programme.
Yorkshire Cancer Research is also funding a multi-million pound lung screening initiative in Leeds and a research programme in Hull that includes a campaign aimed at encouraging more people to see their GP if they notice early signs of a lung health problem.
Dr Griffiths added: “Early diagnosis is the key to saving more lives in Yorkshire. Investing in research and services to increase early diagnosis is one of the charity’s key priorities.