A fifth of cancer patients in Bassetlaw were only diagnosed after an emergency hospital visit

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More than a fifth of cancer patients in Bassetlaw are only diagnosed after an emergency visit to hospital, figures reveal.

Public Health England says people with the disease stand a much slimmer chance of surviving when their diagnosis comes via an emergency admission, compared to other routes.

Cancer Research UK says people with unusual or persistent symptoms should be able to seek early help more easily.

In 2018, 615 patients were admitted to hospital with cancer in the NHS Bassetlaw CCG area, the latest Public Health England data shows.

Of them, 134 (22 per cent) were admitted as an emergency, rather than through routes such as screening programmes or routine GP referrals.

Patients diagnosed in this way are more likely to have more advanced and difficult to treat cancers.

A spokesman for the CCG in Bassetlaw acknowledged the significant challenge in detecting cancer at an earlier stage while pointing to Cancer Research’s observation that the rise in admissions is largely down to a growing and ageing population which is a particularly significant factor in Bassetlaw.

He said: “Despite this, Bassetlaw CCG point out that there has been an increase in elective cancer referrals over the last year and Bassetlaw are now seeing more cancers being diagnosed at an earlier stage of development.

“The CCG also stated that they are working with Aurora, the voluntary organisation based in Worksop, to raise awareness of cancer detection and to promote cancer screening.”

Dr Jodie Moffat, head of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, said GPs have made huge efforts to improve early diagnosis by referring more people with suspected cancer symptoms to be seen at hospital within two weeks.

She said: “But significant numbers of people still continue to be diagnosed with cancer after they’ve turned up at A&E.

“The reasons for this are complex, but encouraging people to seek help early for unusual or persistent symptoms, and reducing any barriers to seeking help, might help to bring this number down.”

Across England, around 19 per cent of cancer patients admitted to hospital arrived as an emergency case last year.

The rate has been falling since 2010, when it stood at 22 per cent.

A spokesman for Cancer Research UK said a rise in admissions for cancer is largely down to a growing and ageing population.