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One in four cases of bowel cancer in England are diagnosed only after emergency admission

BMJ 2012; 345 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e7117 (Published 22 October 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;345:e7117
  1. Susan Mayor
  1. 1London

The latest figures from an audit monitoring the diagnosis and management of bowel cancer in England show that 25% of cases were diagnosed only after emergency admission of the patient to hospital.

The national bowel cancer audit found that 8000 of the total of 31 000 patients with a diagnosis of bowel cancer who were admitted to hospitals in England for the first time during the 12 months from 1 August 2009 were given their diagnosis only after emergency admission.1

“Clearly this is not good, and we should try to work to reduce the number of patients not diagnosed until an emergency admission,” said Nigel Scott, a colorectal surgeon at the Royal Preston Hospital and the audit’s national lead.

The audit showed that older people, women, and people from deprived areas were more likely than other people to be given a diagnosis of bowel cancer after emergency admission. Scott said that failure to refer patients with symptoms that could indicate bowel cancer did not seem to be the major reason for diagnosis after emergency admission.

“These …

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