One in six cancer patients in England is not being treated in the recommended time, a charity has warned.

Patients are supposed to start treatment no more than two months - or 62 days - after a hospital receives an urgent GP referral.

But analysis by the charity Macmillan Cancer Support showed that 17% were waiting beyond the official NHS target.

After analysing NHS data, the charity said that over the past three years, the number of people waiting longer than 62 days has risen steadily from 20,534 in 2014 to 25,157 in 2016.

25,157

patients waited longer than 62 days in 2016

20,534

patients waited longer than 62 days in 2014

The charity warned that waiting for treatment could be distressing for patients while experts believed it could hamper a patient's chance of survival.

It has called on the Department of Health to publish an updated total amount of spending on cancer services.

This dismal 'anniversary' of breached cancer waiting times is yet another sign of pressure on the NHS.

Dr Fran Woodard, executive director of policy and impact at Macmillan Cancer Support.

Mr Woodard added: "Everyone is suffering. Patients are waiting too long for treatment and it's leaving them anxious and depressed.

"Many healthcare professionals are feeling overstretched with their morale on the floor."

17% waited beyond the official NHS target Credit: PA

An NHS spokesman said: "For cancer patients, it's successful treatment that matters most, so Macmillan might also mention NHS cancer survival rates are now at their highest ever.

"That means another 2,400 people will be alive this year to celebrate their birthday who last year would not have been - clearly a very 'happy anniversary' for them and their loved ones."