Almost a quarter of people are not diagnosed with cancer until they are admitted to hospital as an urgent case, research suggests.
The National Cancer Intelligence Network (NCIN) said 24% of people are diagnosed after they have gone to accident and emergency wards.
Research from the NCIN also shows that 31% of cancer cases in people over the age of 70 are diagnosed through emergency admission.
Cancer charities said that diagnosis at such a late stage of the disease could have a "disastrous impact" on survival chances.
The Best Cancer-Fighting Foods
Carrots are rich in beta-carotene, a super strong antioxidant that helps keep stomach, prostate and lung cancer away.
Cabbages contain cancer-fighting indole-3-carbinol, which are said to help ward off cancer. Brocolli is a well-known cancer busting vegetable as its glucoraphanin enzyme protects the body from rectum and colon cancer.
Containing a rich source of antioxidant lycopene, they protect the body from various cancer cells, plus it's also packed with vitamin C, which helps strengthen the body's immune system.
Garlic isn't just a great way to flavor our food, but it's a clever way of incorporating a cancer-busting food into our diet. Garlic is proven to boost immunity, which helps our body fight against nasty cancerous cells. Chives, leeks and onions are also part of the allium vegetable group, which help reduce the risks of stomach, colon and prostate cancer.
Flax seeds contain a strong antioxidants called ligans which help keep cells healthy and safe from cancerous cells. They also contain Omega-3, which are believed to prevent colon cancer.
Rated as one fo the highest antioxidant foods, blueberries keep the body's cells healthy and full of oxygen, warding off cancerous cells attacking.
The research, published in the British Journal of Cancer, examined more than 730,000 cancer patients between 2006 and 2008 in England.
Patients could have presented in a variety of ways including going into accident and emergency due to their cancer symptoms or going with another complaint and then having cancer diagnosed, the authors said.
Sara Hiom, director of information at Cancer Research UK and one of the study authors, said: "Our findings showing the sheer numbers of cancer patients first seen as an emergency are startling. Early diagnosis of cancer, when the most effective treatments are more likely to be options, helps improve a patient's chance of surviving their disease.
How To Reduce Your Ovarian Cancer Risk
Breastfeed Your Baby
Breastfeeding can help reduce ovarian cancer risk as it causes the body to release fewer eggs from the ovaries, meaning the ovaries are less exposed to damage, which can lead to cancer," explains <a href="http://www.drrobhicks.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Dr Rob Hicks</a>. "Definitely another good reason to breastfeed if you're a new mother."
Increase Vitamin D
According to Bupa, increasing your vitamin D intake can help reduce your ovarian cancer risk, as a deficiency of this vitamin can lead to the cancer developing. <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/2011/10/28/kellogs-plan-to-add-vitamins-to-popular-cereals_n_1063274.html" target="_hplink">Find out how to top up your vitamin D levels with these foods</a>.
Taking The Contraceptive Pill
"Doctors believe that ovarian cancer is related to how many times you ovulate (release one or more eggs from one of your ovaries), in your life," says Dr Annabel Bentley, from <a href="http://www.bupa.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Bupa</a>. "You ovulate during each menstrual cycle but the contraceptive pill prevents ovulation, so the fewer cycles you have, the lower your risk of ovarian cancer."
"Maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking are the most effective ways a woman can reduce their risk," says <a href="http://www.drrobhicks.co.uk/" target="_hplink">Dr Rob Hicks</a>. Eating foods rich in flavonoids is also a good way of reducing ovarian cancer risks. According to the <a href="http://www.aicr.org/" target="_hplink">American Institute for Cancer Research</a>, flavonoids such as kaempferol (found in tea, broccoli, kale and spinach) and luteolin (found in peppers, carrots, cabbage and celery) are both great cancer preventatives, especially effective with ovarian cancer.
According to the <a href="http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/%28SICI%291099-095X%28199809/10%299:5%3C495::AID-ENV318%3E3.0.CO;2-H/abstract" target="_hplink">Canadian National Enhanced Cancer Surveillance System </a>(NECSS), moderate and regular exercise greatly reduces ovarian risk in women. They claim that it's because regular exercise boosts the body's immune system and decreases the chance of obesity.
"We don't yet know the reasons that lie behind these stark figures but, although we might expect higher numbers of older patients to have cancer detected as an emergency, we urgently need to understand why there is such a great proportion.
"It may be that older people are reluctant to bother their doctor with possible cancer symptoms, or they could be slipping through the net as symptoms may be dismissed as the usual aches and pains or old age, or their GP could have referred them but their condition has progressed so rapidly that they end up as an emergency in hospital."
Bowel Cancer: Lifestyle Changes You Can Make To Prevent Risks
Find out what you can do to help prevent yourself against bowel cancer.
Try to do 150 minutes (two and a half hours) of moderate exercise over a week in bouts of 10 minutes or more. You can do this by carrying out 30 minutes on at least five days each week.
Drink... In Moderation
Drink alcohol in moderation - no more than two to three units a day for women and three to four units a day for men.
Boost Your Vitamin D
Getting enough vitamin D may reduce your risk of developing a number of cancers, including bowel cancer - although more research needs to be done to be certain. Vitamin D is produced naturally by your body when your skin is exposed to sunlight and can also be obtained from some foods, such as oily fish.
Smokers are 25% more likely to die from bowel cancer than people who had never smoked. If you smoke - quit now.
Professor Jane Maher, chief medical officer at Macmillan Cancer Support, added: "This route to diagnosis can have a disastrous impact on survival chances.
"It can be more difficult to spot cancer symptoms in older people who have other health conditions but this does not excuse such a high number of people being diagnosed in this way.
"All cancer patients should be given the best possible survival chance and we owe it to the older members of our society to ensure that this applies equally to them."