16/01/2020

One In Five Cancer Diagnoses Via Emergency

One fifth of cancer patients in Northern Ireland were given their diagnosis through an emergency assessment, a new report has revealed.

Some 46,068 people were informed they had cancer between 2012 and 2016, one fifth of which had an emergency route to diagnosis. These patients were given what's known as a "poor net survival" at three years of just 23%.

The figures do not include those diagnosed with non-melanoma skin cancer.

The worrying statistics came to light in the 'Pathways to a Cancer Diagnosis' report carried out by Queen's University Belfast and the Health and Social Care Business Services Organisation (BSO).

The comprehensive study provides details on the different routes by which cancer patients received their diagnosis, an important factor in their prediction of survival.

Routes can range from screening programmes to those who are diagnosed via emergency admissions to hospital.

The proportion of emergency presentations was higher in deprived areas and among older patients, the report has found.

Some 28% of patients were diagnosed after being 'red flagged' for testing, while 21% went through GP routes. Such patients had a three-year net survival rate of 72% and 71% respectively.
News Image
Meanwhile, the proportion of patients diagnosed through the 'red flag' route increased from around 26% in 2012 to just below 31% in 2015.

While 20% of people received the news via emergency presentation routes, only 6% were diagnosed via screening. These figures are similar to rates in England, according to the Department of Health, however Northern Ireland has greater proportions of patients diagnosed via outpatient and inpatient elective routes and smaller proportions of red flag and routine GP routes.

The Department said further work is required to understand the local factors which might be driving such differences given that, for many patients, their route into secondary care, for whatever condition they may have, will typically begin with a consultation with their GP.

Chief Executive of the BSO Liam McIover welcomed the report saying: "This is a fantastic piece of work and shows what can be achieved when we collectively harness our data and analytical skills for the longer term benefits of patients."

It's also hoped the data will provide direction within the health service to help improve cancer services and patient outcomes.

Dr Finian Bannon, Principal Investigator on the QUB team, said: "The findings of the study will help improve patient outcomes by increasing our understanding of how cancer services are delivered, and how services can be improved."



(JG/CM)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

18 February 2020
Air Ambulance Helipad Opens At RVH
Northern Ireland's Air Ambulance has completed its first test landing at a new helipad at the Royal Victoria Hospital. With just a short period of testing and crew familiarisation to take place throughout the next week, the charity will soon operate a fully operational helicopter emergency medical service.
18 February 2020
Appeal As New Builds Damaged In Co L'Derry
Police are appealing for information after damage was caused to a construction site in Portstewart, Co L'Derry. The windows and doors of two buildings in Hatheran Mews, off Lissadell Avenue, were damaged over the last few days.
31 March 2011
NI Misses Cancer Treatment Targets
Northern Ireland's hospitals have failed to meet target times for the treatment of patients referred for suspected cancer, a new report by the Department of Health revealed. Its guidelines say 95% of patients should begin their treatment within 62 days. Last December however, the figure stood at 81%, which was the third monthly fall in a row.
10 October 2011
Pink Lady Backs NI Cancer Research
A Saintfield woman, Noleen Adair, who knows about cancer, having discovered she had breast cancer at 22 to be faced with radical surgery and chemotherapy has been fundraising. Noleen refuses to put her life on hold and now, the charity she founded to help others facing breast cancer has presented a dazzling £50,000 to Friends of The Cancer Centre.
15 August 2008
Cancer Foundation Offers Artistic Distraction
A new art therapy service for cancer patients has been launched by the Ulster Cancer Foundation (UCF) as a pilot in Londonderry. UCF's art therapy service is being rolled out regionally with this being the first time it will be offered to local cancer patients in their own community.