More emergency cancer patients in Nottinghamshire than pre-pandemic

More cancer patients are receiving emergency diagnoses than they were before the pandemic in Nottinghamshire, new figures show.

By Andrew Dowdeswell
Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:57 am
Updated Thursday, 14th July 2022, 10:58 am

Across England, the percentage of cancer patients presenting as an emergency has fallen in the last year – though it remains above pre-pandemic levels, and Cancer Research UK says more must be done to diagnose cancers at an earlier stage and limit emergency presentations.

An emergency presentation is when a diagnosis is given within 30 days of a hospital admission and does not include more managed routes, such as cancer screening or through a GP.

NHS Digital figures show 1,406 people first presented as having cancer in the NHS Nottinghamshire clinical commissioning group area between October and December, with 277 deemed to be an emergency.

Cancer Research UK said the fall in emergency cancers could reflect a rise in people being diagnosed through regular routes, but also expressed concern that emergency rates remain high.

It meant 19.7 per cent of patients were classed as an emergency – up from 19.5 per cent in the same period in 2020.

This is also higher than the final quarter of 2019, 19.5 per cent, the last before the coronavirus pandemic.

Nationally, 13,000 of 70,000 total presentations were emergencies between October and December, meaning 18.8 per cent of cancer presentations were an emergency.

This is the lowest of any quarter since the pandemic began, but above the 18.4 per cent between October-December 2019.

Pancreatic cancer had the highest percentage of emergency presentations in October-December nationally, at 57 per cent, followed by acute myeloid leukaemia and central nervous system tumours.

Cancer Research UK said the fall in emergency cancers could reflect a rise in people being diagnosed through regular routes, but also expressed concern emergency rates remain high.

Dr Ian Walker, charity executive director of policy, said: “This is worrying, because cancers diagnosed following an emergency presentation are more likely to be at a later stage when fewer treatment options are available.

“Cancer must be a priority for the new Health Secretary.”

The Department of Health and Social Care said it is ‘improving outcomes from cancer patients across England’ by reducing waiting times and addressing the Covid backlog.

A spokesman said: “We are making good progress on our target to have 75 per cent of patients diagnosed or have cancer ruled out within 28 days following an urgent GP referral for suspected cancer, with nearly 71 per cent reached in May.”