Diagnosis times have shown improvement

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BOWEL, oesophagus and pancreatic cancers have seen the greatest improvement in the time it takes from when a patient first visits their GP to when they are diagnosed with the disease, research shows.

The data – presented at the National Cancer Research Institute Cancer Conference in Liverpool – was collected for breast, bowel, lung, pancreatic, oesophageal and stomach cancers for 2001-2 and for 2007-8 using data from 14,400 patients.

It showed that in 2001-2 bowel cancer was on average diagnosed 96 days after patients first reported a symptom. This dropped to 75 days in 2007-8.

For oesophageal cancer in 2001-2, the average time to diagnosis after first GP visit was 59 days, falling to 48 days in 2007-8.

For pancreatic cancer in 2001-2 the average time to diagnosis after first GP visit was 63 days, falling to 52 days in 2007-8.

Breast, stomach and lung cancers also showed a drop, though not a significant one, according to research from Bangor University.

Sara Hiom, Cancer Research UK’s director of information, said: “It’s very encouraging to see that patients are, on average, being diagnosed more quickly for some cancers, offering a better chance of successful outcome. It’s clearly vital for GPs to have access to good quality information to make the best decisions.”