The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis in England, UK: a national, population-based, modelling study

In the UK, national COVID-19 pandemic measures have resulted in the suspension of cancer screening and deferral of routine diagnostic investigations. For instance, urgent 2-week wait referrals for patients with suspected cancer initiated by general practitioners (GPs) have decreased by up to 80% in response to physical distancing. This study estimated the impact of delays in diagnosis on cancer survival outcomes in four major tumour types; oesophageal, colorectal, breast and lung cancer. Compared with pre-pandemic figures, they estimated an additional 3291–3621 additional deaths across the four tumour types within 5 years. Even as lockdown measures are being relaxed, presentation to primary care services continues to be much lower than pre-pandemic levels. Any exit strategy from lockdown therefore needs to include accurate and measured public health messaging that is tailored towards patients, GPs, and secondary care services that puts into perspective the risk of death from COVID-19 compared with other serious illnesses.

Read Full Text

Scroll to Top