According to a study, the NHS has a problem with cancer: Approximately 50,000 of its patients missed out on diagnosis due to the pandemic.
Macmillan Cancer Support stated that there is no way for the health system to handle the backlog.
The charity’s analysis revealed 47,000 fewer people have been diagnosed with cancer in England over the past 18 months than would usually be expected.
More than 24,000 people who started treatment had to wait too long once they were diagnosed.
Macmillan stated that these figures show the NHS has already struggled to cope with current cancer cases. It said it is ‘deeply concerned’ about how services will cope when the ‘missing’ patients do come forward.
Macmillan Cancer Support’s study claims that about 50,000 patients missed being diagnosed during the pandemic.
Steven McIntosh of Macmillan said: ‘Nearly two years into the pandemic, there is still a mountain of almost 50,000 people who are missing a cancer diagnosis.’
The NHS said: ‘Cancer diagnosis and treatment numbers have been back at pre-pandemic levels since the spring.’
Macmillan claimed that while the NHS did make some progress over the summer in dealing with the backlog, it seems like this is now deadlocked.
The Covid case increase in winter could cause more disruptions to the cancer services, and lead to more missing diagnosis.
The biggest drop in prostate cancer diagnoses has been in England, where confirmed cases have fallen by nearly 25% (23%) compared to pre-Covid predictions.
Next are multiple myeloma, which is down 14%; melanoma (33%); lymphoid and leukaemia (12%) respectively. Breast cancer (12%) is the second most commonly affected types.
Macmillan is especially concerned about the diagnosis of breast cancer in women. These figures indicate that they are diagnosed later, which is when it is more difficult to treat.
Early diagnosis – stage one and two – was below the pre-pandemic level, while late diagnosis at stage four was above average.
Ellen Lang, service manager on the Macmillan Support Line, said: ‘We’re taking an increasing number of calls from people who need help or advice after experiencing a delay to their diagnosis because of issues related to Covid-19 or because they can’t get through to their clinical team to get any of the questions they have answered.
‘People are often incredibly distressed about how delays are affecting their prognosis or treatment options, with many feeling like their survival chances are being impacted by the enormous pressures on the NHS.’