18th Jun 2015

Shocking statistic that one in four cancers only diagnosed at A&E

One in four cases of cancer are only diagnosed when the victim has been admitted to Accident & Emergency Departments because of severe symptoms, a leading consultant has warned.

Professor Christopher Nutting, who runs the mouth and throat cancer unit at The Royal Marsden Hospital, was speaking at a star-studded fashion ball in support of a charity aimed at increasing cancer awareness among men.

One For The Boys is chaired by Hollywood star Samuel L Jackson who has urged men to “Love The Glove” and make sure they have regular checks. The ball, at Camden’s Roundhouse, was attended by a host of celebrities who took to the catwalk in support of the cause – among them John Newman, Richard Roundtree, Luke Wilson, Taron Egerton, John Bishop, Ray Stevenson and Alice Cooper.

Taking to the catwalk himself, Professor Nutting pointed out that half the population will get cancer at some point in their lives and over 50% of those diagnosed with the disease can expect to be cured of it.

But he said although cancer is more common in women, more men die from the disease.

“Much of this is due to late diagnosis because of a lack of awareness of worrying symptoms and in men a tendency to shrug off symptoms as unimportant. Most men have a “cancer does not happen to us attitude”, Prof Nutting said.

He added: “Did you know that even now in the UK 1 in 4 cases of cancer is not diagnosed until the patient reaches an Accident and Emergency Department with symptoms that have been present for weeks or months and that usually represent a very advanced cancer.

“Early diagnosis definitely saves lives.

“For example bowel cancer found early at Stage I has a 74% chance of long term cure, but this drops to only 6% if detected later at Stage IV. The same is true for many other common cancers such as prostate cancer, head and neck cancer and lung cancer which are major health risks for men.”

Late diagnosis also means more aggressive treatment particularly with gruelling chemotherapy and radiation. “I specialise in mouth and throat cancer. A small cancer of your larynx (or voice box) can be cured with a 30 minute laser surgery operation, but if it grows to be large it may need 6 weeks of intensive chemotherapy and radiation to treat it.”

For more information about Prof Nutting's work please visit the CV page, get in touch or arrange a consultation.