Public Release: 

Quarter of Londoners diagnosed with cancer at A&E are dead within two months

Cancer Research UK

A quarter of patients diagnosed with cancer after going to London A&E departments will have died within two months, according to research presented at the National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) Cancer Conference in Liverpool today (Monday).

Patients diagnosed through emergency routes tend to have more advanced cancers, which contributes to a poorer prognosis. They may also be diagnosed with cancers that are harder to treat, and other factors can also play a part, such as their age, overall health and socioeconomic background.

Researchers based at London Cancer* measured the survival of nearly 1,000 patients diagnosed following emergency presentation at 12 A&E departments across north east and central London and west Essex during 2013.

The researchers found that average** survival was less than six months, with only 36 per cent of patients surviving beyond one year.

Half of all patients under the age of 65 had died by 14 months from diagnosis, with 55 per cent surviving beyond one year. For 65 - 75 year olds, half had died by five months and only 25 per cent made it past one year. And, for patients aged over 75, half had died after just three months, with only a quarter surviving past one year.

Study author, Professor Kathy Pritchard-Jones, said: "These shocking figures hammer home what we already know to be true: early diagnosis can make a huge difference in your chances of surviving cancer.

"Around a quarter of all cancer cases are being diagnosed following presentation in A&E and the vast majority of these are already at a late stage, when treatment options are limited and survival is poorer. And many of the patients diagnosed through A&E have other health conditions that may complicate their treatment.

"We need to find ways to diagnose patients earlier, and through managed pathways. This is crucial to improving the UK's cancer survival to the standard of comparable countries."

Professor Charles Swanton, chair of the 2015 NCRI Cancer Conference, said: "When cancers are diagnosed as an emergency presentation they are more likely to be advanced, which means they may have already spread to other parts of the body.

"Emergency presentation is a challenge across the country - not just in London - and is a complex problem that may reflect a myriad of different factors. Initiatives driving scientific, medical and societal advances in early diagnosis will be central for us to achieve world-class cancer survival in the UK."


For media enquiries please contact Greg Jones on 020 3469 8311 if calling on Friday, 0151 707 4642 if calling on Monday or, out-of-hours, the duty press officer on 07050 264 059

Notes to Editors:

Abstract details:

* London Cancer is the integrated cancer system for hospitals in north east and central London and west Essex.

** The average was calculated using median survival, which is the amount of time which passes before half of the patients in the group that is being studied have died.

Data was collected between January and August 2013. The most common cancers diagnosed in A&E were lung, bowel and hepatopancreatobiliary (HPB) cancers.

About the NCRI

The National Cancer Research Institute (NCRI) was established in 2001. It is a UK-wide partnership between cancer research funders which promotes collaboration in the field. Its member organisations work together to maximise the value and benefits of cancer research for patients and the public.

NCRI members are: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council; Bloodwise (formerly Leukaemia & Lymphoma Research); Breast Cancer Now; Cancer Research UK; Children with Cancer UK, Department of Health; Economic and Social Research Council; Macmillan Cancer Support; Marie Curie; Medical Research Council; Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Public Health Agency (Research & Development Department); Prostate Cancer UK; Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation; Scottish Government Health Directorates (Chief Scientist Office); Tenovus Cancer Care; The Wellcome Trust; Welsh Assembly Government (Health and Care Research Wales); and Worldwide Cancer Research (formerly AICR).

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About the NCRI Cancer Conference

The NCRI Cancer Conference is the UK's major forum for showcasing the best British and international cancer research.

    * The Conference offers unique opportunities for networking and sharing knowledge by bringing together world-leading experts from all cancer research disciplines.

    * The NCRI Cancer Conference is taking place from 1-4 November 2015 at the BT Convention Centre in Liverpool.

    * For more information visit

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