50,000 have missed cancer diagnosis during Covid-19 pandemic, Macmillan says

29 October 2020, 00:07

As many as 50,000 people have missed being diagnosed with cancer after they put off seeking care during the coronavirus crisis
As many as 50,000 people have missed being diagnosed with cancer after they put off seeking care during the coronavirus crisis. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

As many as 50,000 people have missed being diagnosed with cancer after they put off seeking care during the coronavirus crisis, a charity has warned.

The NHS has urged people not to sit on any worrying symptoms and seek help.

Macmillan Cancer Support has estimated that tens of thousands of people are yet to be diagnosed with cancer.

It raised concerns about backlogs of care in a new report titled The Forgotten C? The impact of Covid-19 on cancer care.

The backlog has been caused by a combination of factors including thousands of people not going to visit their GP, as well as a disruption to vital appointments, surgeries, and treatments during the first wave of the pandemic in the UK, the charity said.

Lynda Thomas, chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: "Cancer care is at a crossroads and services cannot be shut down this winter.

"Because of the pandemic, we estimate that an additional 50,000 people are missing a cancer diagnosis and others are having their appointments disrupted once again.

"It is simply unacceptable that they face unbearable and unprecedented delays which could affect their chances of survival.

"Cancer doesn't stop for Covid-19 and neither can our health services.

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"Macmillan is doing whatever it takes to support people with cancer and our exhausted NHS staff but we need more.

"Governments need to promise every person with cancer that they won't be forgotten and ensure cancer services are protected - come what may."

The NHS has worked hard to maintain urgent cancer operations during the pandemic.

A spokesperson for the health service in England said Macmillan's findings are "flawed" adding: "Because thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, cancer treatments are actually back to pre-pandemic levels.

"The majority of people who have not been diagnosed are people who have not come forward for checks and so our message is clear - if you have worrying symptoms you must get this checked - the NHS is ready and able to treat you."

It comes as a new study found that there is minimal risk of catching Covid-19 as a result of an endoscopy.

Read more: Nottinghamshire to enter Tier 3 Covid restrictions on Friday

Endoscopies allow medics to examine internal parts of the body- often helping them to diagnose some cancers at an early stage.

A new study, published in the journal Gut, tracked more than 6,000 patients who underwent endoscopies at 18 NHS hospitals since the start of pandemic.

None contracted Covid-19 as a result of the procedure, experts from Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust found.

- The Macmillan Support Line on 0808 808 00 00 is open seven days a week from 8am-8pm.

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