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Early diagnosis can prevent cancer deaths

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10,000 people a year die due to late diagnosis of cancer. It is now widely recognised that late diagnosis of cancer is a major reason for poor survival rates. Causes range from patients finding it difficult to make appointments, being worried about taking time off work and losing money, and doctors misdiagnosing symptoms.

 

A recent survey by the charity Cancer Research UK found that 40 per cent of people would put off visiting their GP for fear of being labelled a time-waster.

 

National Cancer Director Professor Mike Richards announced in the British Journal of Cancer that earlier detection of symptoms could save between 5000 and 10,000 lives a year in England. The higher figure is nearly twice his previous calculation, which put the figure at about 5000.

 

Ninety per cent of patients are currently diagnosed by symptoms, rather than through screening. More than one in three people will develop cancer during their lifetime. In the UK alone, 285,000 new cases are diagnosed each year, with nearly 155,000 fatalities. Many people may be unaware that there are more than 200 different types of cancer, with breast, stomach, large bowel and prostate cancer accounting for more than half of all new cases.

 

Westfield Health now has more than 100,000 policyholders covered by its scanning benefit, which is available on many of its corporate health cash plans. The benefit enables eligible policyholders to access MRI, CT and PET scans, which can detect serious conditions such as cancer early, at a potentially treatable stage. Once referred by a consultant, policyholders can call Westfield’s scanning helpline and a scan will be arranged on their behalf, the cost of which is covered by the policyholder’s plan. The plan will normally provide access to scanning facilities within two weeks of referral.

Health cash plans: News update: 12 January 2010