MORE patients are diagnosed with cancer in an emergency in the UK than in other comparable high-income countries, a study suggests.

People who end up in A&E, sometimes after repeated trips to their GP, are less likely to survive their ­disease, particularly if they have stomach, bowel, liver, pancreatic, lung or ovarian cancer.

The new study, from the ­International Cancer Benchmarking Partnership (ICBP), working with Cancer Research UK, was published in the journal, The Lancet Oncology. It looked at cancer data and linked hospital admissions from 14 areas in six countries: Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, Norway and the UK, covering 2012 to 2017.

Cancer data often has a time lag, but Cancer Research UK said it feared the outlook is now even worse following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer ­Research UK’s chief executive, added: “If we want to build a world-class ­cancer service, we need to learn from ­comparable countries and ensure ­fewer patients are being diagnosed with cancer after an emergency ­referral or trip to A&E.”

For the study, experts from ­University College London looked at eight major cancers and found more than a third of patients in England (37%), Wales (37%) and Scotland (39%) were diagnosed after being rushed into hospital. In Northern ­Ireland, which was measured using a different definition, emergency ­diagnoses were more than a quarter (28%).

From 857,068 cancer patients in all the country regions, the percentage of diagnoses through emergency ­presentation ranged from 24% to 43%. When it came to individual cancers, 46% of people with pancreatic ­cancer were diagnosed in an emergency overall, but the figure was much ­higher, at 56%, in England and Wales, and was 59% in Scotland.

Meanwhile, New Zealand had 60% of patients diagnosed as an ­emergency with pancreatic cancer and Norway had 55%, but Ontario in Canada had just 35% and Alberta had 41%.

Some 34% of people in England and Wales and 35% in Scotland were diagnosed with bowel cancer in an emergency, but the figure was 27% in Ontario and 32% in New South Wales in Australia.

The study found that 47% of ­people in the UK were diagnosed with liver cancer in an emergency, ­compared to 40% in New South Wales, 32% in Alberta and 28% in Ontario. In Norway the figure was 51%.

The study found that those aged 75 and over were more likely to be ­diagnosed in an emergency, as were those whose cancer was advanced.

Professor Georgios ­Lyratzopoulos, lead researcher from University ­College London, said: “Getting ­better at preventing cancer, detecting it through screening, or diagnosing it soon after symptoms appear can help decrease emergency presentations and reduce cancer deaths.”