When it comes to cancer, every second counts. Unless the cancer is benign, surgery to remove tumors is time sensitive as cancerous cells can keep on multiplying. Tens of thousands have missed out on potentially lifesaving treatment, official figures reveal. Surgery to remove tumours dropped by one third during the first wave of coronavirus.
According to Public Health England (PHE), between April to August, some 21,700 fewer patients had cancer surgery compared to the time period in 2019. Cancer diagnosis as well as cancer treatments also fell sharply compared to the previous year.
The devastating figures emerged as the head of the NHS said further delays to cancer surgery in recent weeks were a major cause of concern. An estimated 800 cancer operations were cancelled in the first two weeks of January, as hospitals once again postponed thousands of non-Covid treatments.
Experts warn that cancer patients may eventually become ‘collateral damage’ of Covid-19, putting tens of thousands of lives at risk. Research shows every four-week delay in cancer treatment increases the risk of death by around 10 per cent.
An NHS spokesman said: ‘While some people chose not to come forward for care during the pandemic, our message is clear – people should continue to come forward for routine screening or get checked if they have a worrying symptom.’
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