An increase in cancer misdiagnosis is having a detrimental impact on patient’s chances of survival in the UK. Last year, the NHS spent almost £2 billion on unnecessary surgery, part of which was due to misdiagnosis.
Last month, a 33 year-old mother died after her bone cancer was mistaken by her GP as an injury related to ‘over-exercising’. She initially reported pain in her hip following a return to exercise three months after giving birth. After four sleepless nights due to excruciating pain, she was eventually referred for a scan which revealed a mass. Despite chemotherapy and the full amputation of her right leg, the cancer spread and she was given just a few days to live.
Former deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg promised an investigation after a 61 year-old woman’s terminal pancreatic cancer was missed on 11 separate occasions by her doctor. She had persistently complained of back pain over an eight month period, and it was only until her son had to rush her to A&E because the pain was so bad, that the cancer was finally recognised. She died just two months later. This specific case was brought to Mr Clegg’s attention in the House of Commons after it was revealed a quarter of cancers were diagnosed in A&E.
The delays in diagnosis partly contributed to £1.8 billion that was spent by the NHS on unnecessary surgery in 2014. In a recent national news report, it was revealed that one in seven operations were not required. The amount wasted would have been enough to pay the wages of all UK ambulance staff for three years.
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