According to the findings of a recent report, four out of ten people with cancer in the UK are misdiagnosed at least once before the disease is identified, leading for calls for more investment into early testing.
The report, by the All.Can cancer initiative, warns that one in five (21 per cent) of the UK patients surveyed said they had waited more than six months for the correct diagnosis and the group is warning that these failures to provide quick and accurate diagnosis are costing patients their lives.
The NHS and Government have both targeted working towards earlier diagnosis. However, several successive reports have found that the UK is still lagging behind other nations with too many cancers being caught out after they have already spread.
Cancer Research UK has previously warned that 22 per cent of the 356,000 people diagnosed with cancer each year were only picked up at A&E.
In 71 per cent of these cases, they had visited their GP at least once with symptoms linked to their cancer, meaning that opportunities to catch the disease early and minimise its spread had been missed.
Back in 2011, the Government pledged £450 million towards improving early diagnosis, by allowing GP’s access to key tests directly, but it is believed that a large proportion of that funding was absorbed through financial pressures elsewhere in the cash-strapped NHS.
While the NHS adopted a target of diagnosing 95 per cent of cancers within a month of a GP referral by 2020, these shortages pose a significant barrier to achieving it.
An NHS spokesperson said: “The NHS is now seeing 2 million urgent GP referrals a year, half a million more than in 2015 when NICE updated their referral criteria, with record numbers of people receiving treatment.
“Cancer survival rates are now at their highest ever and further work to ensure faster and earlier diagnosis – including the testing of new faster diagnosis where patients receive results within 28 days – is well underway.”