Could bladder cancer loophole be costing lives?
Bladder cancer patients are waiting longer to be treated than the NHS guidance of 62 days.
Due to a loophole, the countdown clock is being stopped after a biopsy is taken.
The guidance states that cancer patients should have treatment within 62 days. But, the biopsy that some bladder cancer patients have (which is used for diagnostics) is being classed as treatment.
This means that for some bladder cancer patients are not being treated within the 62 day guidance. Instead some are facing a five month wait for treatment.
How has this loophole occurred?
Those patients that undergo a transurethral resection of bladder tumour (TURBT) to diagnose their illness are being classed as starting treatment.
This means the 62 day countdown to cancer treatment is stopped.
The cancer may have spread and treatment required to fight the cancer delayed.
In a report last year, NHS Improvement, the health regulator, acknowledged a problem.
It found that bladder cancer patients were waiting 144 days following referral to have surgery or radiotherapy.
“This is outrageous. Essentially NHS targets are being met if a bladder cancer patient has a diagnostic procedure. The sooner cancer is treated the better the possible outcome for the patient. If treatment is not starting for 5 months, it could lead to more aggressive treatment being needed, less chance of remission and emotional turmoil for the patient and their family.”
Every year around 18,000 people are diagnosed with bladder cancer.
And 4,500 of those people die of it.
Surgery often involves the removal of the bladder. This is knows as a cystectomy.
The NHS is quick to point out that 77.8% of people with urological malignancies are treated within the target 62 days.
However, there are some people having to wait more than two months for treatment from a GP referral.
A cancer diagnosis is devastating for you and your family. Waiting for treatment can leave you feeling out of control and like life is on hold.
“The NHS guidance is there to protect cancer patients. The sooner diagnosis occurs, treatment needs to happen quickly to prevent spread and growth. This loophole with bladder cancer needs to be closed as a matter of urgency.”
Delays in diagnosis, misdiagnosis and delays in treatment can have devastating consequences for people and their family. If you have experienced this, there is help available.
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