Cancer patients have said they have only months to live after facing long waits for treatment on the NHS.
Sick people across England have been forced to endure delays of up to four months between vital checks, tests and treatment.
As a result, some say they are now dying prematurely, suffering from depression and unable to plan for the future.
It comes as England’s growing cancer crisis was exposed today by MailOnline’s dossier of ’embarrassing’ data.
The dire numbers, packed into a search tool so you can see exactly how your NHS trust is performing, come amid growing fears of a cancer time bomb.
Carol Fletcher (left), from South Wales, had a routine screening appointment for breast cancer in June 2022. Kevin O’Hara (right), from County Durham, had a scan last November after a motorcycle accident
Charlotte Park (left), from North Yorkshire, booked a GP appointment in June 2020 after finding a lump in her breast. Caroline Boulton (right), from Greater Manchester, was scheduled for a mammogram, a routine check for breast cancer, in March 2020
Carol Fletcher, from South Wales, had a routine screening appointment for breast cancer in June 2022.
The NHS offers the checks to women aged 50 to 71 every three years. It uses X-rays to look for cancers that are too small to see or feel.
It wasn’t until eight weeks after her mammogram that Carol was told something was wrong.
Then she was diagnosed with breast cancer and faced more waits for scans, tests, surgery and chemotherapy.
Carol told the BBC: ‘I was told that I may not get (quick) results after my mastectomy because they don’t have enough pathologists, so there was another eight week delay for chemotherapy.
“I can’t plan ahead and it has had a huge impact on my family.”
Kevin O’Hara, of County Durham, underwent a scan last November after a motorcycle accident.
In addition to showing that he had five broken ribs, a scan detected a shadow near one of his kidneys.
It was later diagnosed as kidney cancer.
Initially, Kevin was offered medication to slow the growth of the tumor.
But the doctors informed him that he faced a three to four month wait for surgery.
told the BBC: ‘Every day you are waiting and waiting and nothing changes.
“I get home from work and go to the door and when there isn’t an envelope that says NHS on the top, I get really depressed.”
Charlotte Park, from North Yorkshire, booked an appointment with her GP in June 2020 after finding a lump in her breast.
Her doctor urgently referred her to her local breast clinic, who was supposed to see her in two weeks.
But when Charlotte called the clinic after not hearing from her, they told her there were delays due to a delay.
She was finally seen three and a half weeks later, but only after going back to her GP, who helped secure an earlier appointment.
Scans showed that she had an aggressive form of breast cancer. But it wasn’t until September that she started chemotherapy.
He is now in remission, which means there are no signs of cancer in his body.
But she told the BBC: ‘It was so frustrating. I felt like I was hitting my head against a brick wall. I felt under an enormous amount of stress.
‘I thought I was going to die in a moment. You worry a lot when you are expecting. Unfortunately, there are so many people out there in this position.
The MailOnline audit also revealed that 27 NHS trusts never managed to reach the NHS’s most recent target, introduced in 2021 as part of the government’s “war on cancer”. Under an ambitious plan that former health secretary Sajid Javid said would “save more lives,” hospitals were told to ensure 75 percent of patients were told they had cancer or given the go-ahead. within 28 days of urgent referral with suspicious symptoms. The NHS in England has only hit the target once in the 26 months it has been operational. % figure refers to performance in 2023 so far
All hospitals across the country are expected to meet ten separate cancer time targets, focused on seeing suspected patients, detecting their disease quickly, and starting their treatment. But only one – Calderdale and Huddersfield – have managed to reach the biggest four so far by 2023, according to our research. These are: Wait two weeks from urgent GP referral to first consultant appointment (top left); One month wait from treatment decision to first cancer treatment (bottom left); Wait four weeks (28 days) from urgent referral until patient is told they have cancer or cancer is definitely excluded (top right; and wait two months from urgent referral from GP to first cancer treatment (bottom right)
Cancer Research UK estimates that cancer cases will increase from the current 384,000 annual cases to 506,000 in 2040, if current trends continue. While survival rates have improved, the UK continues to lag behind much of Europe, with deaths rising by almost a quarter from 167,000 to 208,000, over the same period. He warned that “the NHS risks being overwhelmed by the sheer volume of new cancer diagnoses” unless more is done to tackle preventable causes such as obesity and train more staff. While most of the increase is due to an aging population, the charity also said that issues such as obesity and smoking are contributing to the increase.
Major medical advances mean cancer is no longer a guaranteed “death sentence,” leading experts have said. Data shows that survival rates have skyrocketed in the last 50 years. Only one in four men with prostate cancer in the 1970s would be lucky enough to live to see the next decade. The opposite is true today, with 75 percent of men diagnosed with the disease still alive a decade later, figures show.
Caroline Boulton, from Greater Manchester, was scheduled for a mammogram, a routine check for breast cancer, in March 2020.
But the appointment, and another for November 2020, were canceled due to the Covid pandemic.
Then, in November 2021, she found a small pea-sized lump in her breast.
Caroline booked an appointment with the GP and was urgently referred to a specialist.
However, he had to wait three weeks to see a consultant, instead of the two weeks stated in the NHS rule book.
At the time of her appointment, the lump had grown to the size of a tangerine.
Caroline was told it was a fast-growing cancer, but she would have to wait eight weeks for surgery to remove her breast.
Then he faced delays of four to eight weeks between each appointment and the scan.
When she saw an oncologist, seven months after finding the lump, scans showed that the cancer had spread to her liver and no effective treatment was available.
Caroline said: “Now I have stage four cancer that I shouldn’t have, and I have two years to live.”