Thousands are told in A&E they have cancer
More than 3,000 patients a year are only finding out they have cancer when they attend a hospital A&E department.
The alarming revelation comes as new figures show cancer has overtaken heart disease as the biggest killer.
More than 41,000 new patients are diagnosed with cancer annually including non-invasive forms of the disease, according to the annual report of the National Cancer Registry.
A growing and ageing population has contributed to an 85pc rise in cases since the mid 1990s.
However for thousands of patients the diagnosis will only be made after they present as emergencies and they account for 14pc of cases, excluding non-melanoma skin cancers.
This can result from lack of awareness of symptoms or being on a long waiting list for access to scans.
They usually have advanced disease, limited treatment options and poorer prognosis.
Overall, cancer claims the lives of 9,094 people annually with lung cancer the main killer for men and women.
Non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer and breast cancer were the most commonly diagnosed cancers.
The risk of dying of cancer was about 34pc higher for men who tend to present later for care than for women.