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People with bladder cancer are being made to wait up to five months for treatment because of an NHS loophole, it has been revealed.
Health service guidance counts a biopsy – the removal of a small sample of cells to be tested – as the beginning of treatment.
NHS - Treatment - Limit - Patient - Biopsy
This means the NHS's 62-day treatment waiting limit stops once a patient has had a biopsy, and they are being left to wait up to 144 days to start actual therapy.
Politicians and campaigners have written to the Government urging it to act to improve care for patients with the illness, which kills around 5,000 Britons per year.
Loophole - Picture - Waits - Labour - Shadow
'I am concerned that this loophole is hiding the true picture of patient waits,' Labour's Shadow Health Secretary, Jonathan Ashworth, told The Guardian.
'The clock effectively stops for people with bladder cancer once they have received their first [biopsy] and they are counted as having been treated within the [62-day] target.
Cancer - Cancer - Tissue - Body - Patients
'However, if the cancer is more advanced, there can be further cancer tissue in the body and patients will invariably then need definitive treatment of the cancer, such as surgery or radiotherapy.'
The loophole happens because the NHS uses the same term for a bladder cancer test and for a type of treatment.
Removal - Bladder - Tumour - TURBT - Operation
The trans-urethral removal of bladder tumour (TURBT) is an operation in which surgeons insert a tube through the urethra to remove all or part of a bladder tumour.
However, the charity Fight Bladder Cancer says, this procedure is often only used to take a small part of the tumour to send to a lab for...
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