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Late diagnosis is major factor in hospital cancer deaths
Date:4/8/2011

Late cancer diagnosis in Northern Ireland contributes to hospital deaths despite patient's preference to die at home according to a major report launched at Queen's University Belfast.

The study conducted by the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry and funded by the Ulster Cancer Foundation found that while patients who die in hospital with cancer are very ill, late diagnosis of their cancer is a major factor in hospital cancer deaths here. This is the first ever study in Northern Ireland specifically investigating why cancer patients die in acute hospitals.

Over half of patients recorded preferred to die at home, yet in Northern Ireland the majority (45 percent) of cancers deaths occurred in hospital and only a third of patients died at home (12.5 percent die in hospices and 8 percent in nursing/residential or care homes).

Why Cancer Patients Die in Acute Hospitals examined patient hospital records for 695 cancer patients who died in hospital in the last six months of 2007. It investigated the time from diagnosis to death as well as the preferred place of death in comparison with actual place of death.

The report found the following:

  • Over a quarter of all deaths in Northern Ireland are due to cancer, accounting for approximately 4150 deaths per year.
  • The average age of patients who had cancer and died in hospital was 74 years. The average time from diagnosis to death was 4 months with one third dying within one month of diagnosis.
  • Cancer registry data shows that overall in 2007 one in eleven of all cancer patients died within one month of diagnosis, which points to a general problem of late diagnosis of cancers.
  • Most of the late diagnoses were cancers of the lung or digestive organs and were more likely to occur in older, non-partnered patients.
  • Almost forty per cent of patients who died in hospital, had specifically requested to return to their usual residence. For three-quarters of cases, their conditio
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Contact: Claire O'Callaghan
c.ocallaghan@qub.ac.uk
Queen's University Belfast
Source:Eurekalert

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