Cancer appointments are being missed, cancelled, or re-arranged at a rate health bosses have called ‘alarming’.
From April to December last year, 564 people failed to turn up, cancelled at short notice, or re-arranged urgent referrals for suspected cancer.
A further 117 didn’t arrive for their scheduled breast cancer appointments.
As well as putting their chances of survival at risk, it also cost the NHS £141,000.
Dr Adam Janjua, a Fleetwood GP and chairman of a Fylde coast cancer group, inset, said: “A GP will not make an urgent cancer referral without a good reason. It may turn out to be nothing at all but if your GP suggests you have it checked out then it is really important you attend the appointment and don’t let it go to waste.
“If we suspect cancer then we aim to see people as soon as possible within the next two weeks as this can make a huge difference in the effectiveness of treatment. The earlier we can detect cancer the earlier we can start treatment and the more likely you are to survive it.
“When cancer is detected earlier the treatment is also often less invasive and has fewer side effects in both the long and short-term. This means that attending urgent appointments increases your chances of surviving and also going on to leading an active and healthy life.
“By not attending these appointments, people are not only putting themselves at serious risk but also delaying someone else being seen that could have gone in their place.”
If the top eight types of cancer – bladder, bowel, breast, cervical, womb, malignant melanoma, ovarian, and testicular – are diagnosed in stage one or two, there is an 81 per cent chance of survival. That drops to just 26 per cent at stage three, with cancer more likely to grow and spread elsewhere.