Delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment due to coronavirus could cause up to 35,000 excess deaths in the UK

DELAYS to cancer diagnosis and treatment due to coronavirus could cause up to 35,000 excess deaths in the UK within a year in a worst case scenario, research suggests reports the BBC.

Up to two million routine breast, bowel and cervical cancer screenings may have been missed.

Urgent referrals and treatments have also been delayed or cancelled.

Scientists examined data from eight hospital trusts and shared their findings exclusively with BBC Panorama.

The study, conducted by DATA-CAN, the Health Care Research Hub (HDR UK) for Cancer, modelled different outcomes depending on how long services take to get back to normal levels.

In a worst case scenario, if delays continue, there could be 35,000 additional cancer deaths within a year.

Prof Mark Lawler, Scientific Lead of DATA-CAN, told BBC Panorama: “Initial data that we got was very worrying to us.

“Anecdotally, people have been telling us there were problems, but I think the critical thing was being able to actually have routine data from hospital trusts.

“Obviously scientists like to be right in terms of their analysis, but I hope I’m wrong in relation to that,” he said.

It was the job of Peter Johnson, the National Clinical Director for Cancer NHS England, to draw up the guidelines on cancer treatment during Covid-19.

“We’re working as fast as we can to put the services back together again, to restore the capacity and indeed to build more, so that we can deal with the people that have not been diagnosed during the time when the services have been running below 100%,” he told BBC Panorama.

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