Cancer Treatment & Covid-19

29th April 2020

On Monday, the Health Secretary announced that hospitals are now restarting vital services including cancer care. An important part of our work at Guts UK is campaigning, raising awareness and calling for more research into the Less Survivable Cancers. We’re a proud founding member of the Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT), a taskforce targeting six overlooked and underfunded cancers – those with the lowest survival rates (liver, oesophageal, stomach, pancreatic, lung & brain).

This is an enormously difficult time for our health service and for everyone fighting COVID-19. The situation is particularly critical for people with existing health conditions including those with cancer.

“People diagnosed with these cancers already have heartbreakingly poor survival rates but treatment can add precious months or years to their life expectancies. The overwhelming and unprecedented pressures on all areas of the NHS due to COVID-19 has meant that the situation has become more desperate for these patients as resources have been diverted to tackle the devastating effects of this virus.

We are deeply concerned for people with less survivable cancers who may have found their treatments delayed, and we are still worried that people with potential cancer symptoms are delaying seeking help. We want to emphasize the message that the NHS is open and there for people with concerning new symptoms not linked to COVID 19.” – Less Survivable Cancers Taskforce (LSCT).

Do not delay getting checked about any symptoms that may be worrying you:

A study from University College London (UCL) and DATA-CAN, the Health Data Research Hub for Cancer looked at real-time weekly hospital data for urgent cancer referrals and chemotherapy attendances during the coronavirus epidemic and found that the majority of patients with cancer or suspected cancer are not accessing health services.

When looking specifically at England and Northern Ireland, it was discovered that there was an average reduction in attendance for chemotherapy of 60% and a 76% average drop in cancer referrals for early diagnosis.

“We must ensure that we can get treatment for the less survivable cancers back on track as soon as possible, as fast access to treatment is essential for those diagnosed with these cancers. We don’t want to see survival rates for less cancers fall further behind.

We are urging the public not to ignore cancer symptoms and to seek help from their GP immediately rather than waiting for this outbreak to pass.  Ignoring problems can have serious consequences while fast diagnosis and treatment can make an enormous difference when it comes to Less Survivable Cancers” – Anna Jewell, Chair of LSCT.

Cancer52 have put together a list of Frequently Asked Question’s for those with cancer during these times. Click here to read more.

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