Almost 40,000 cancers went undiagnosed during the first year of Covid, according to official statistics which lay bare the catastrophic impact of the lockdowns, as experts fear this is just “the tip of the iceberg”. The Mail has the story.
Just 290,000 people in England were told they had cancer in 2020, down by roughly a tenth on one year earlier – the biggest drop logged since records began half a century ago. It was also the fewest annual diagnoses in a decade.
It means 100 fewer Britons daily were told they had cancer, equating to one every 13 minutes – prompting fears of a cancer timebomb. Half of the missed tumours are thought to be prostate and breast cancers.
The NHS prioritising Covid care, a lack of in-person appointments and the public avoiding the health service due to fear of catching the virus or adding to NHS pressures have all been blamed for the downturn.
Top experts today warned the figure is just the “tip of the iceberg” as the backlog in diagnosis is “still present and actually growing”, with tens of thousands facing “agonising” delays.
Continued Covid disruption means more Britons are living with missed and untreated serious cancers, which will cause cancer deaths to shoot up within years, doctors warned.
Today’s NHS Digital data shows there were 288,753 new cancer diagnoses in 2020, which is 38,421 fewer than in 2019.
The 2020 figure marks an 11.7% drop – the biggest logged by the NHS in its 50 years of cancer diagnoses data.
Until now, the largest annual decline was 7.1% in 1990.
New diagnoses had been trending upwards, with 2% more cancers spotted each year, on average, in the five years before the pandemic.
But the latest data shows that the average number of new diagnoses each day fell from 896 in 2019 to 789 in 2020 – 107 fewer.
Rather than the prevalence of cancer declining in the population, more cancers were missed in 2020 as the country was plunged into an endless cycle of on/off lockdowns.
Cancer care effectively ground to a halt for some patients when the pandemic first reached the U.K.’s shores, with appointments cancelled and diagnostic scans delayed because of the Government’s devotion to protecting the NHS.