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Thousands Of Cancer Cases Going Undetected Each Week Due To Coronavirus

April 22, 2020

More than 2,000 people each week may be missing cancer diagnoses and possibly losing vital treatment time due to coronavirus fears, a leading cancer charity has warned.

Cancer Research UK said that the number of urgent referrals by GPs for cancer treatment has dropped by 25 per cent – meaning an average of around 2,300 people every week will have missed a cancer diagnosis.

Screening services in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland have been paused, while Cancer Research said they have also been “de facto” halted in England, with appointments not being made.

Around 200,000 people were screened for cancer every week before the outbreak, finding about 2,300 cases.

The charity said pausing screenings meant there were “a significant number of early cancers left undetected”, which meant that surgery to remove cancerous tissue may no longer be an option.

Cancer Research is pushing for the NHS to resume screening once safe, and for “cancer hubs” to be established in private hospitals.

These are areas in hospitals where staff and patients are regularly tested for Covid-19 to ensure that cancer patients are safe from the virus.

Professor Charles Swanton, chief clinician at Cancer Research UK, said: “This pandemic is having a major impact on patients suffering from cancer and the direction it’s heading is really concerning. Delays to diagnosis and treatment could mean that some cancers will become inoperable.

“But it’s not too late to turn this around. Cancer patients shouldn’t need to wait for the pandemic to pass before getting the treatment they need.” 

He added: “We can create a safe environment for both staff and cancer patients now that testing efforts are escalating quickly.

“Staff in hospitals around the country are working extremely hard and with more testing of staff and patients – with and without symptoms – we will have hospitals and centres relatively free from COVID-19 where patients can be treated safely, and post-operative complications can be minimised.”

Peter Johnson, NHS clinical director for cancer, said: “We know if cancers are caught earlier more lives are saved which is why early referral for suspected cancer is essential and a major goal for the NHS Long Term Plan.

“Although the NHS is working day and night to tackle coronavirus, it is also open for business in other vital areas such as cancer diagnosis and treatment – if you have worrying symptoms, you should still contact your GP and be referred for further checks.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Lesslie permalink
    April 22, 2020 2:09 pm

    It is not just cases going undetected, Many of those already diagnosed have had surgery and other treatments cancelled With out-patent appointments 3 months later and no new surgery date . It is an absolute scandle

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