THOUSAND of cancer patients in south Essex were not diagnosed until they had progressed to the deadliest stage of illness, new figures have shown.

Nearly 4,000 cancer diagnosis in 2019 were not detected until stage four across south Essex.

The stages of cancer ranges in severity from zero to four, taking into account the size of tumours and how far the cancer has spread.

Patients diagnosed at the earliest stage are between five and ten times more likely to survive at least five years, compared to those diagnosed at stage four.

Chairman of the Basildon communities and wellbeing committee, Terri Sargent, has urged patients to get checked at the earliest possible stage..

She said: “I think all I can urge is that people ensure they get to a doctor or their GP if they are showing symptoms of cancer or are worried about changes and the GPs will do there upmost to refer them and get them treated earlier.

“Unfortunately, under the current circumstances it is extremely difficult, as the health service need to recover after the last few years.

“It’s so difficult because the NHS have been amazing over this period, so we just need to hope those with cancer scares, get treated as quick as they can, as the earlier, the better.”

There were 1,023 cancers diagnosed in Southend in 2019, with 37 per cent of these found to be in stage four.

In Basildon and Brentwood, there were 1,479 cancers diagnosed with 28 per cent at stage four.

In Castle Point and Rochford, 30 per cent of 1,241 cancers diagnosed were stage four.

Following these new UK figures, Cancer Research UK are now concerned survival rates could go backwards as a result of the impact from the pandemic.

Dr Jodie Moffat, head of early diagnosis at Cancer Research UK, said: “Many factors can impact a late diagnosis, and Covid has affected many of these, such as how readily people come forward with symptoms or how long people need to wait for tests.

“Worryingly, waits for cancer diagnosis and treatment were struggling well before the pandemic hit.

“Chronic shortages in staff and equipment mean cancer waiting time have been missed for years.”