More than 3000 people a year find out they have cancer in A&E - that is 6 people a day.
The cancer is at a late stage for 8 in ten of these patients, according to a report by the Irish Cancer Society.
Older people, as well as patients from less well-off backgrounds, are most likely to find out they have the disease in overcrowded hospital emergency departments.
Donal Buggy, Head of Services and Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society said:
“By the time a patient arrives in an emergency department they are probably not only presenting with acute symptoms, but wracked with worry and fearful about what happens next. Unfortunately, a late diagnosis often means fewer treatment options are available and a reduced chance of survival. Urgent steps need to be taken so people get diagnosed earlier.”
Speaking at the launch of the report, Mr. Buggy said: “In this report, the Irish Cancer Society is proposing the early implementation of a number of actions to tackle emergency presentation of cancer and, most importantly, save lives and improve outcomes for patients.”
The research, funded by the Irish Cancer Society and carried out by the National Cancer Registry of Ireland, found that:
Mr. Buggy said it highlighted “stark inequalities” in cancer diagnosis. “Unfortunately, if you are older or from a deprived area, you are far more likely to be diagnosed as an emergency, and there is a strong chance that your cancer is already at a late stage.”
“Our proposals are far-reaching and will inform a number of targets in the National Cancer Strategy, including a reduction in cancer inequalities. We’re calling on the National Cancer Control Programme and Department of Health to take up these actions which set clear targets that will support implementation of the National Strategy.”
Professor Kerri Clough-Gorr, Director of the NCRI and Professor of Cancer Epidemiology at University College Cork added: “We are delighted to undertake this vital research in conjunction with the Irish Cancer Society. This is the first time in Ireland we have this data, and we will continue to monitor these figures in our Annual Reports into the future.”
“Nobody wants a cancer patient diagnosed as an emergency. A diagnosis in an emergency department presents huge challenges for patients, and means higher costs for the health system. Thankfully, some progress has already been made and the proportion of cancers being diagnosed via emergency presentation fell sharply from 20% in 2005 to 14% in 2009, but there has been little change since then.”
- Digital Desk