Thousands diagnosed with cancer in A&E each year 'despite repeat GP visits'

Thousands of people are being diagnosed with cancer in A&E every year - despite having visited a GP three or more times with symptoms, research shows.

According to a new study, 71% of all patients diagnosed as an emergency have seen their GP at least once displaying symptoms which transpired to be the disease.

Of that percentile, 41% had sought help three times or more while 59% had seen their GP once or twice.

Cancer Research data showed that in total 22% of all cancer diagnoses in the UK are made in A&E, equating to 78,000 cases.

The figures have been described as "concerning" by cancer charities.

Many cancer patients say they had already consulted GPs. Credit: PA

Each year, 356,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in Britain.

Latest research shows that those who visited their GPs but not been diagnosed tended to have difficult-to-spot cancers - as well as normally being younger or female patients.

But the group also included people with common cancers such as breast cancer.

According to Cancer Research, those who had never been to their GP tended to be older, male and living in the most deprived regions of England.

People who are diagnosed with cancer as an emergency typically have a worse prognosis than those diagnosed at an earlier stage.

The figures have been described by some charities as 'concerning'. Credit: PA

Samia al Qadhi, chief executive of Breast Cancer Care, described the findings as "extremely concerning".

She said: "We speak to women and men who tell us how incredibly distressing it is not to be taken seriously when they've found a possible symptom.

"We have found almost a third (31%) of people with incurable secondary breast cancer do not feel healthcare professionals listened to their concerns about having the disease before being diagnosed."

Judith Brodie, acting chief executive of Beating Bowel Cancer, also described the findings as "concerning".

Professor Helen Stokes-Lampard, chairwoman of the Royal College of GPs, claimed the proportion of cancers diagnosed as an emergency is dropping, and that more patients are being diagnosed earlier.

"However, as this study shows, there are still some patients who seem to be missing or ignoring worrying symptoms until they are severe enough to send them to A&E," she said.