A&E ‘diagnosing young with cancer’
Sunday 13th October 2013, 1:40PM BST.
Over a third of young people with cancer – 37% – are diagnosed through admission to accident and emergency, according to a report.
This is nearly three times the number of adults diagnosed in this way which is 13%, Teenage Cancer Trust said.
Of these young people, over a quarter (26%) had already been to see their GP with cancer symptoms.
The report also highlights that diagnosis through A&E is associated with poorer prognosis and poorer care experience.
The figures are from the Improving Diagnosis report released today by Teenage Cancer Trust to mark the start of Teenage Cancer Action Week.
Around seven young people aged 13 to 24 are diagnosed with cancer every day in the UK and more young people die as a result than any other disease.
Whilst it is accepted that early diagnosis leads to better outcomes in adults, cancer in young people is harder to diagnose because the signs are so similar to other less harmful problems.
This means young people with cancer are frequently misdiagnosed with issues like infections, sports injuries and exam stress, the charity said.
Teenage Cancer Trust believes that improving awareness of the signs of cancer in this age group will help improve their diagnostic experience.
The report offers guidance for young people worried about their health as well as information for parents, teachers and health professionals.
Fay Turner-Paxton, 19, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma at 15.
She said: “I was really tired, sleeping for 14 hours at a time. My GP said I was anaemic but didn’t do any tests. Two weeks later my whole body was aching so I went back to the GP, and was told it might be arthritis.
“I lost two stone in six weeks, and this time the GP said it was psychological. I went back one more time but still wasn’t referred.
“I then found a painful lump under my arm so went to A&E and was booked for a scan, but the next day the pain had spread across my chest and I couldn’t breathe so I went back.
“This time I was admitted. I was really ill by this point and was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma soon after.”
Siobhan Dunn, chief executive of Teenage Cancer Trust, said: “We must improve the diagnostic experience of young people with cancer. We must empower young people to be persistent at the doctors if they’re not getting better and not wait until they have to go to A&E.
“Safety netting is one of the most important tools that can be used by GPs to make sure young people like Fay aren’t left with no option but to seek emergency help.
“If we all learn the signs of cancer in young people and share this information with friends and family, we can make a huge difference.”