People with cancer will die sooner because the NHS suspended so much screening, testing and treatment of the disease during the pandemic, according to new research.
According to a report published in the Guardian the chances of people in the UK with breast cancer surviving for five years after diagnosis could fall from 85% to 83.5%, the IPPR thinktank and CF healthcare consultancy found.
The report further states that five-year survival for bowel cancer could drop from 58.4% to 56.1%, while people with lung cancer would see their chances of being alive after that time fall from 16.2% to 15.4%.
Harry Quilter-Pinner, the IPPR’s associate director and head of its health programme, said that such declines “would represent a significant setback to progress” in cancer survival made in recent years. If these falls occur, the outcomes would be equivalent to those seen six years ago in breast cancer, eight years ago in bowel cancer and one year ago in lung cancer.
The shutdown of cancer screening as the NHS concentrated on treating patients with Covid-19 meant that 210,000 people a week could not be screened, urgent referrals of patients suspected of having cancer fell by 40%, and there were far fewer CT and MRI scans, the IPPR said. In addition, the number of people having surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy fell by up to 40%, he added.