Older people and women, as well as those in deprived areas in England, are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer at a late stage, and be admitted to hospital as an emergency, a study has suggested.
The NHS Cancer Plan invested an extra £570m during the first three years of the study carried out by a team from the University College London, but it did not improve the statistics. The study examined colorectal, breast and lung cancer, which are the three most common cancers, between 2000 and 2006.
The study found 564,821 patients aged 50 and over were admitted to NHS hospitals in England with a diagnosis. More than half of patients with lung cancer were admitted as emergencies, with the figure getting worse over time, while almost a third of those with colorectal cancer were admitted as emergencies as a proportion throughout the study.
The Cancer Plan has helped improve waiting times and survival, according to study leader Professor Rosalind Raine, but significant groups were not experiencing the benefits as their cancers are not being diagnosed early enough.
A Department of Health spokesman, who commented that reducing inequalities in cancer services was a major goal, said: "During 2009 the major focus of the Initiative was to understand the different factors contributing to inequalities. From this work, we are developing plans and will be publishing a practical guide to reducing cancer inequalities early in 2010."