Deaths in people with cancer could rise by at least 20%
The coronavirus pandemic in England could result in at least 20% more deaths over the next 12 months in people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer, according to a new research study published today by researchers at University College London in collaboration with DATA-CAN: The Health Data Research Hub for Cancer in the UK.
The analysis is the first of its kind to model mortality rates in people with cancer as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, and uses near real-time information from the health records of over 3.5 million patients in England.
The study estimates that before the pandemic, about 31,354 newly diagnosed cancer patients would die within a year in England. As a result of coronavirus there could be at least 6,270 additional deaths in newly diagnosed cancer patients alone. This number could rise to an estimated 17,915 additional deaths if all people currently living with cancer are taken into account.
Looking at weekly data from cancer centres, the researchers discovered a 76% reduction in the number of people with suspected cancers being referred by their GP and a 60% decrease in chemotherapy appointments for cancer patients compared to before the coronavirus pandemic began.
Genevieve Edwards, Chief Executive of Bowel Cancer UK said: “What we’re seeing here is the perfect storm created by the impact of coronavirus, both socially and as a disease, coupled with cancellations and delays to cancer diagnostic services and treatment which will lead to thousands of people losing their lives before their time.
Bowel cancer is the fourth most common cancer in the UK, over 42,000 people are diagnosed with the disease every year, so the back log of patients will be substantial. There is no doubt that unless the NHS has the resources it needs, and a clear and robust plan in place, the effects on the diagnosis and treatment of cancer will be felt for years to come.”
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