Delays in providing cancer treatment are potentially putting the lives of patients at risk, according to government figures.
In the UK patients should start cancer treatment within 62 days of there being a suspicion of a cancer diagnosis, under official targets.
In England the aim is for at least 85% of patients to begin treatment in that time frame, whilst in the rest of the UK the target is 95% of patients.
However, worryingly, nowhere in the UK has achieved this in the last 2 years, meaning more patients than ever are waiting longer for treatment than they should, with more than 1 in 6 patients waiting longer than 62 days to start potentially lifesaving treatment.
Prompt treatment is essential to give patients the best chance of beating cancer and delays can potentially affect chances of recovery and also cause further unnecessary distress and worry at what is already a very difficult time.
The reasons behind the delays are due to an increase in the numbers of patients with cancer and increasing pressure on the NHS caused by lack of beds and staff shortages.
Macmillan Cancer Support has described the situation as extremely dispiriting whilst a government spokesman has said that the delays are not acceptable.
It is unclear how many people may have lost their lives or had their chances of recovery affected as a result of delays in treatment.
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Author: Laura Armstrong