National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards has said that delayed diagnosis of cancer was costing up to 10,000 lives in England each year. In an article in the British Journal of Cancer, Professor Richards says this is unacceptable.
"These delays in the patient presenting with symptoms and cancer being diagnosed at a late stage inevitably costs lives," he said. "The situation is unacceptable so the first big step has been to understand why the delays occur."
The three biggest cancer killers in the country are breast, lung and colon cancers. Professor Richards said that early screening would save many lives as currently cancer is diagnosed on symptoms rather than by screening.
Reacting to the article, Professor Steve Field, chairman of the Royal College of GPs, said they would need to examine if there was anything they could do to make it easier to pick up cancer symptoms, "It's wrong to blame GPs for all these deaths, as there are many factors involved, including patients not recognising symptoms of cancer and not talking to their GP about them, especially middle-aged men," he added.