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How common it is to get an incidental cancer diagnosis?

a person sitting on a bed
How common is an incidental cancer diagnosis?Yoss Sabalet - Getty Images

In news that left the country rocked, Buckingham Palace announced earlier this week (5 February) that King Charles III has been diagnosed with cancer.

The King, 75, had been treated in The London Clinic last month for an enlarged prostate.

“It was during this intervention that the separate issue of concern was noted and subsequently diagnosed as a form of cancer,” the statement from Buckingham Palace reads. “This second condition will now receive appropriate treatment.”

King Charles will now be undergoing treatment for his diagnosis. The type of cancer he has, has not been shared publicly. While he will not be engaging in public-facing roles, he will continue duties such as his weekly meeting with Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.

It’s actually not common to be diagnosed with cancer as a secondary concern while undergoing treatment for another health issue.

Stats given to Cosmopolitan UK by Cancer Research show around one in 25 patients in England were diagnosed incidentally, with the odds of incidental cancer diagnosis increasing with age.

king charles iii
Max Mumby/Indigo / Contributor - Getty Images

And further stats show the other avenues in which cancer is uncovered in a patient, as opposed to traditional screening routes.

“In England, we know that more than half of cancer cases are diagnosed through routes other than the urgent suspected cancer referral (formerly two-week-wait) or screening programmes,” a spokesperson for Cancer Research told Cosmopolitan UK.

“We know that more than a fifth of cancer cases are diagnosed through non-urgent GP referrals, while around 3% of people are diagnosed with cancer following an inpatient stay at hospital in non-emergency settings.”

Additionally, around 9% of people in England are diagnosed with cancer following an initial outpatient appointment.

And perhaps more worryingly, a fifth of cancer cases are diagnosed via emergency presentation (this includes heading into A&E care or emergency GP referrals).

News of King Charles’s cancer diagnosis has sparked a flurry of interest in cancer symptoms. Cancer Research recorded a 42% increase in visitors to their information pages.

It goes to show, if you are ever worried or uncertain about anything with your body, that you make an appointment with a GP as soon as possible.

If you want to find out more about types of cancer or symptoms to look out for, go to Cancer Research UK for more helpful advice and information.

This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice or diagnosis. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.


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