Delays in diagnosing and treating people with cancer could lead to more years of lost life than with Covid-19, according to a leading cancer expert.
A drop-off in screening and referrals means roughly 2,700 fewer people are being diagnosed every week, Cancer Research UK says.
Cancer screening has paused in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with few invitations sent out in England.
People are still advised to contact their GP with worrying symptoms.
But Richard Sullivan, professor of cancer and global health at King’s College London, said there was more fear of Covid-19 than of having cancer at the moment. With GPs more difficult to contact than normal, this was resulting in a “dramatic drop-off” in referrals to specialists, he said.
“Most modellers in the UK estimate excess of deaths is going to be way greater than we are going to see with Covid-19,” he said.
With cancer patients generally much younger, Prof Sullivan predicted “years of lost life will be quite dramatic” on top of “a huge amount of avoidable mortality”.