Cancer treatment wait times deemed "dangerous"
A patient being held.

Various reports have sounded the alarm over the state of cancer care in the UK with three separate studies digging into the state of NHS wait times.

Cancer Research UK found that in April 2024, 73.5 per cent of people were diagnosed or had cancer ruled out, within 28 days of an urgent referral.

The target is 75 per cent and this target has only been met twice since its introduction in October 2021.

Additionally, only 66.6 per cent of people in England received their diagnosis and started their first treatment within two months of an urgent referral in April 2024.

The target is 85 per cent and has not been met since December 2015.

Michelle Mitchell, chief executive of Cancer Research UK said: "Each of these numbers is a friend, family member, and loved one who is facing unbearably long waits for their treatment to begin, causing stress and anxiety.

"The general election must be a turning point for cancer. Any incoming UK government must make tackling cancer waits a top priority, and pledge to meet all cancer waiting time targets by the end of the next parliament."

"To do this, all political parties should commit to a long-term, fully funded strategy to back cancer research across the UK and improve and reform cancer services in England, in order to provide our health service with much needed equipment and staff. Without this, cancer patients will not receive the level of care that they deserve."

Additionally, the Royal College of Radiologists and a third paper featuring contributions from children's cancer charities Young Lives vs Cancer, Teenage Cancer Trust, Ellen MacArthur Cancer Trust, and Children’s Cancer and Leukaemia Group urged change from the NHS and the government.

The Cancer Research UK report said hospitals were struggling with too few workers and a lack of diagnostic equipment such as CT and MRI scanners.

People with more aggressive cancers are prioritised for early treatment where possible, but there can be good reasons why someone might experience a long wait for treatment.

In response to the reports, leading oncologist and co-founder of the Catch Up With Cancer campaign, Professor Pat Price said: “[This] cancer data is a timely reminder that the cancer crisis continues and dangerous delays have been normalised.

"A third of cancer patients still faced unacceptable delays and astonishingly 2,571 patients spent at least three months on cancer treatment waiting lists in April."