Many stomach cancer patients are diagnosed with the disease when it is too late to do anything about it, research suggests.
As many as 15% of people are diagnosed when they are admitted to hospital as an emergency - when the disease is at a more advanced stage and patients are less likely to benefit from life-saving treatments, according to a new disease audit commissioned by the Healthcare Quality Improvement Partnership.
Experts warned that stomach and oesophageal cancers are "particularly aggressive" and prognosis is extremely poor if caught at a late stage.
Consultant gastroenterologist Stuart Riley, member of the British Society of Gastroenterology, said: "Stomach and oesophageal cancer typically afflicts the elderly, and men are twice as likely to be affected compared to women.
"This study makes it clear just how important it is for patients to receive an early diagnosis as these are particularly aggressive forms of cancer.
"The public should be made aware of the alarm symptoms which include problems with swallowing, persistent vomiting and weight loss. National guidelines recommend that GPs make an urgent referral for an endoscopy."
Every year around 13,500 patients in England are diagnosed with stomach and oesophageal cancers.
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