United Kingdom

One in three patients has suffered disruption to their treatment during Covid pandemic

Cancer patients have been 'forgotten' during the pandemic with one in three suffering disruption to treatment, a report has revealed.

Cancer Research UK found 29 per cent of patients had life-saving treatment including chemotherapy or surgery delayed, cancelled or changed.

And 31 per cent said their care had deteriorated compared with before Covid. One in ten said 'very good' care had slipped to 'average' or below.

The survey of 900 cancer patients was conducted between December 2020 and March this year, during the second wave of the UK's epidemic.

Cancer Research UK found 29 per cent of patients had life-saving treatment including chemotherapy or surgery delayed, cancelled or changed (stock image)

Around two-thirds said they now feel more 'frustrated' and 'anxious'. 

Many reported a sense of being forgotten, with one breast cancer patient saying: 'I felt abandoned and in the dark.'

Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK's chief executive, said: 'Covid-19 hit the health system hard, but even before the pandemic struck, cancer targets were not being met. 

'And now, for the first time in decades, we're faced with the fact that cancer survival could go backwards.'

Latest data shows 38,000 fewer people have started treatment for cancer in the past year, and the charity said tens of thousands are still facing delays to tests and treatment.

Thousands of non-Covid operations were cancelled to free up space for patients with the virus.

Data shows 38,000 fewer people have started treatment for cancer in the past year, and Cancer Research said tens of thousands are still facing delays to tests (stock image)

The Government's 'stay at home' message during lockdown has also been blamed for putting people off getting symptoms checked, meaning many people are getting diagnosed when their cancer is at a more advanced stage.

Professor Charles Swanton, Cancer Research UK's chief clinician, said: 'Remarkable adaptability and resilience has been shown by NHS staff, with hospitals providing COVID-19 free spaces and tele consultations.

'But we also know cancer patients faced a lot more uncertainty than usual and last-minute changes to their care, as a result of the pandemic.

'Although there are challenges in the health system, it's very important that anyone who has noticed an unusual change in their body, gets in touch with their GP.

'And if it's tricky getting an appointment, do keep trying because your GP wants to hear from you. Early diagnosis can make all the difference.'

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