Cancer has not gone away during the coronavirus pandemic

How can we protect patients facing delays in screening, tests and treatments for cancer?


I have written previously about unintended consequences of the coronavirus pandemic and predicted that we may see an increase in deaths from other conditions due to having to prepare for a viral surge. There have been unprecedented changes in the NHS with hospitals and outpatient departments showing significant reductions in patients. Recent statistics from our local hospital show a 36% unoccupancy level. Prior to the 21st March the same hospital had 0%.

So, we now have a situation where these patients are not getting into secondary care. These patients are therefore sitting in the community. There is likely to be a cohort of patients with self-limiting complaints that resolve with time and patients therefore realising that a doctor’s appointment is not required. However, there will be some who have more serious symptoms or even patients in a pre-symptomatic state that would normally have been picked up by screening.

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Luke Koupparis

Medical editor, OnMedica

I am a GP in the Bristol area and also work as medical editor for OnMedica.
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