Patients at a Department of Veterans Affairs hospital in New Mexico who were eventually diagnosed with cancer experienced delays in care that put their health at risk, according to the agency’s inspector general.

Dozens of veterans who tested positive for colorectal cancer at the New Mexico VA Health Care System in Albuquerque were not notified of their results in a timely manner, according to the inspector general report released this week, which faulted a lack of oversight from the system’s leadership.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer deaths in the United States. Screening can detect the cancer in its early stages, making it easier to beat.

Nine veterans who sought care at the New Mexico VA hospital in fiscal years 2013 and 2014 and who were eventually diagnosed with colorectal cancer “experienced delays and, in some instances, significant delays that may have affected the patients’ clinical outcomes,” investigators found.

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