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“Missed opportunities” in cancer treatment

Posted in: Medical Negligence 

Recent research has revealed that doctors across the country are missing the early signs of lung cancer.  With lung cancer killing more than 35,000 people a year – being the biggest cause of cancer death in the UK – researchers have revealed that more could be done to catch it in its early stages.

Scientists working at the University of Nottingham carried out an investigation into why fewer people in the UK with lung cancer survive than in other countries.  It was found that in Britain only around 30% of people survived after being diagnosed between 2004 and 2007, whereas in Sweden, 46% of people with the disease survived. 

An unexpected finding was raised by the report: that the chance of an early death rose in relation to the number of GP consultations attended by the patient.  On average, those who died had visited their GP five times in the months before diagnosis.  One leading scientist in the investigation, Dr Emma O’Dowd, said that the findings did not match her expectations of patients with lung cancer being those that did not frequently visit their doctor.

“We do need to do a great deal more”

The study looked at a total of 20,142 cases in which 1,071 were diagnosed at death; 2,036 died within 30 days of diagnosis; and 2,976 died between 31 and 90 days of diagnosis.

The researchers have called for software to be made available to doctors, into which they can type the symptoms of lung cancer to quickly identify the disease.  This has long been an issue as the symptoms are very similar to so many other conditions.

John Field, from the University of Liverpool, said: “The paper supports the argument that we do need to do a great deal more for potential lung cancer patients than what is provided at present.

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