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Thursday 20th June 2019

Cancer diagnosis waiting times down

8th November 2011

Data from England's General Practice Research Database has shown the average times for cancer diagnosis have decreased since the millennium.


The figures showed bowel cancer is now diagnosed an average of 75 days after a person goes to see their doctor. The average time in 2001-02 was 96 days.

The average diagnosis time for oesophageal cancer in 2001-02 was 59 days, which reduced to 48 days in 2007-08.

However although breast, lung and stomach cancer also showed a drop in average diagnosis times, they were not as marked.

The data from the database covered over 14,400 patients aged 40 or older who were diagnosed with one of six types of cancer and had shown cancer symptoms.

The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence provides guidelines for England and Wales which suggest patient symptoms such as weight loss which could indicate the presence of cancer. 

Dr Richard Neal, of Bangor University and the study's lead researcher spoke at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool and said: "This gives clear guidance on which symptoms should prompt a doctor to refer a patient for further investigation. But there is considerable variation between cancers, with diagnostic intervals highest in those cancers which are more difficult to diagnose."

"And we do not fully know the effect of the reduction of diagnostic intervals on improvements in stage at diagnosis and long term survival."

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