Delays in diagnosing new cancers and getting treatment for those who already have the disease could significantly impact survival, according to a new study.
Experts looked at real-time weekly hospital data for urgent cancer referrals and chemotherapy attendances during the UK’s Covid-19 epidemic.
They found that the majority of patients with cancer or suspected cancer are not accessing health services.
When looking specifically at England and Northern Ireland, they found an average reduction in attendance for chemotherapy of 60 per cent and a 76 per cent average drop in cancer referrals for early diagnosis.
This was across three trusts in England – Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, the Royal Free in London and University College London Hospitals – and all five health trusts in Northern Ireland.
When looking specifically at England and analysing data from more than 3.5 million patients, experts estimated that pre-Covid-19, about 31,354 newly diagnosed cancer patients would die within a year in England.
But as a result of coronavirus, they found there could be at least 6,270 extra deaths in newly diagnosed cancer patients – a rise of a fifth.
When all people currently living with cancer are included, the figure jumps to 17,915 excess deaths.