New research has revealed that cancer sufferers who are female, older or single are more likely to be diagnosed later when their cancer is more advanced and harder to treat.
The Leeds University study revealed warning signs are being missed by GPs and people who are unmarried, divorced, widowed, or over 60 are more likely to be diagnosed with bowel or lung cancer as an emergency.
Cancer Research UK examined 22 studies featuring 687,000 lung and bowel cancer cases, of which more than 200,000 cases were diagnosed with cancer following an emergency hospital admission.
Researchers from the Leeds Institute of Health Sciences said elderly people may be at a greater risk of late cancer diagnosis because they are more likely to live alone and as such may not have anyone at hand to notice symptoms and changes to their health.
Furthermore, those over 60 may not always want to visit their GPs about early cancer symptoms and may already suffer from pre-existing health problems which can make diagnoses for diseases such as cancer much more difficult.
The study found that although women might encourage their husbands to see their GPs, they were less likely to act over concerns about their own health.
In addition, women with lung cancer were more likely than men to be diagnosed in hospital following an emergency and as women commonly live longer than men they were more likely to end up alone and at greater risk of late emergency diagnoses.
It is important we have a better understanding of all the factors concerning late emergency cancer diagnoses. This review shows us that age, gender and whether someone is single or lives alone may directly influence how quickly people are diagnosed.
The government needs to do everything it can to ensure more cancers are diagnosed earlier as people’s chances of survival are considerably higher if they are diagnosed early on.
This is particularly important in Britain as various studies have shown survival rates for almost all common cancers including stomach, colon, rectal, lung, breast, ovarian and prostate cancer are worse in the UK than the European average.
Stephen Jones heads up the Medical Negligence department at Slater and Gordon Lawyers in Manchester.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers help people who have suffered from delayed or wrong diagnosis of cancer due to Medical Negligence.
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