Two in five cancer patients wait too long for treatment due to doctors wrongly diagnosing the disease, damning study reveals

Experts warn the misdiagnoses harm survival rates because treatments work best before tumours grow too big and spread around the body.

Some patients were repeatedly misdiagnosed, with one in five waiting more than six months for their disease to be correctly identified.

Just under half received a diagnosis of cancer within a month, the poll of 322 patients by pharma-backed campaign group All.Can found.

One in eight has resorted to paying for some or all of their care to avoid delays or access treatments unavailable on the NHS.

More than 360,000 people are diagnosed with cancer in the UK every year, meaning 43,000 may be digging into their own pocket.

Rachel Power, from the Patients Association, said: “A quick and accurate diagnosis is essential if patients are to receive treatment that gives them the best chance of surviving cancer.”

The findings will be presented at the Britain Against Cancer conference in London today.

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