Cancer patients in the UK have reported that they continue to face difficulties in receiving a timely diagnosis, according to a survey commissioned by the All.Can initiative, presented at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London.

It found that two in five (40%) cancer patients said that their cancer was diagnosed as something different, either initially or on multiple occasions, and that nearly four in ten (36%) said most inefficiencies occurred during the initial diagnosis phase of their cancer care and treatment.

The survey, which included 322 cancer patients who live in the UK affected by a range of tumour types including breast cancer, gynaecological cancers, bowel/colorectal cancers and a wide range of other cancer types, also found that 1 in 5 (21%) waited over six months for a cancer diagnosis, with less than half (47%) reportedly receiving a diagnosis within a month.

It also revealed that around one in eight (12%) people with cancer are resorting to paying for some or all of their cancer care themselves, either to avoid delay or to access treatments and services that are not available on the NHS - as over 360,000 people receive a cancer diagnosis every year in the UK, this potentially represents over 43,000 people yearly.

“A quick and accurate diagnosis is essential if patients are to receive treatment that gives them the best chance of surviving cancer,” said Rachel Power, chief executive of the Patients Association, which chairs All.Can UK.

“Only by working together to identify examples of waste and inefficiency in cancer care can we increase efficiency, improve outcomes and save lives.”