NHS patients with stomach or oesophageal cancer are being endangered because of a lack of urgency by GPs in referring them to hospital, according to the National Oesophago-Gastric Cancer Audit.
The audit says late admissions delay diagnoses, and that late diagnosis is linked to more advanced diseases and a poorer chance of survival.
Between 13% to 66% of patients in the 30 regional cancer networks in England and Wales are not referred urgently, the report says.
In 12% of the patients with oesophageal and 23% of patients with stomach cancer, the disease was only discovered after an unplanned emergency admission to hospital.
Says NHS Information Centre chief executive Tim Straughan: “Although the audit indicates a lower mortality rate following surgery, which is encouraging, the fact remains many patients are diagnosed too late for surgery to be a possibility.”
The audit was commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership led by the Association of Upper Gastro-Intestinal Surgeons, the British Society of Gastroenterology and the Royal College of Surgeons of England and managed by the NHS Information Centre. It looked at the treatment in NHS hospitals of more than 12,000 patients.