As the Government begins to ease the coronavirus lockdown, we can expect the United Kingdom NHS to attempt to reach some semblance of normality. We fear however that it will be difficult for the NHS to cope with the Cancer backlog which has built up over the past three months.
Surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy has been postponed for over 20,000 cancer patients during the pandemic. Some 2.1million adults have missed vital cancer screening for breast, cervical and bowel cancer while the hospitals cope with a surge in virus cases. Such delays in diagnosis and/or treatment could mean that some cancers will have grown or spread to other parts of the body and become inoperable.
By March this year, cancer waiting times were at their worst since records began in 2010 with understaffed and underfunded hospitals struggling to cope. Patients had already waited months for a cancer diagnosis or treatment and there will now be a surge of new patients coming through the system, creating a huge bottleneck.
The Institute of Cancer Research, (ICR), fears that delays in cancer surgery alone will cost more lives than the number of virus patients saved in hospitals. The ICR warns that a three-month delay in operations on the most common adult cancers risks 5,000 extra deaths. A six-month delay would push those excess fatalities up to 11,000.
If you are a Cancer patient – Stay at Home!
Those who were already being treated for cancer when the pandemic struck were, and still are, vulnerable to the virus. Scotland’s NHS, (NHS Inform) states that if you are a cancer patient, you are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus if you:
- Have had solid organ transplants
- Are receiving active chemotherapy
- Have lung cancer and are either receiving or previously received radical radiotherapy
- Have cancers of the blood or bone marrow
- Are receiving immunotherapy or other continuing antibody treatments for cancer
- Are receiving other targeted cancer treatments, such as protein kinase inhibitors or PARP inhibitors
- Have had bone marrow or stem cell transplants in the last 6 months
- Are still taking immunosuppression drugs
Stopcancer.health recommends you ignore the new and confusing Government message regarding the easing of the lockdown. Stay at Home until your cancer consultant says it is safe to venture out.
Institute of Cancer Research Pressing a post-coronavirus reset button on cancer research
NHS Inform Identifying, treating and managing cancers and leukaemia in adults, teenagers and children
American Cancer Society Leukaemia in Children; Chemotherapy
Stopcancer.health Animal-free research into Cancer causes, treatment and prevention.