Urgent Lung Cancer Referrals Fall by a Third

The “stay at home” message is behind a major fall in urgent lung cancer referrals, according to Cancer Research UK’s GP adviser. Lung cancer is the deadliest type and only 3% of sufferers survive for five years or more if diagnosed at the latest stage. People with symptoms are now being urged to contact their GP, but for many, it is already too late. The Telegraph has the story.

Urgent lung cancer referrals have fallen by a third, as a consultant blames the “stay at home” message.

Some 20,300 fewer people were referred for treatment in England between March 2020 and January 2021 compared with the previous year, according to an analysis by Cancer Research UK. This is a 34% fall in patients.

The charity has now warned that multiple lockdowns have resulted in damaging delays in life-saving treatment, as people are either ignoring symptoms altogether or putting off seeking help in order to comply with Covid rules.

Dr Neil Smith, Cancer Research UK’s GP adviser, said: “It’s incredibly worrying that fewer lung cancer patients have started treatment since the beginning of the pandemic.

“While initial advice to stay at home and isolate if people had a new, continuous cough, could mean some people understandably delayed seeking help, we know delays to potentially life-saving treatment may mean lung cancer could progress.

“Covid has created a perfect storm of problems, but the tide is turning as cases drop and vaccines are rolled out.” …

Lung cancer is the most deadly type but if it is diagnosed early when it is more treatable 57% of people will survive for five years or more. This compares with 3% of people diagnosed at the latest stage.

Some of the main symptoms include a cough which doesn’t go away after two or three weeks, coughing up blood, persistent breathlessness, loss of appetite and unexplained weight loss.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. Earlier this month, the number of people waiting to receive hospital treatment in England reached a record high (4.59 million) as a result of Covid and lockdowns. Sky News reported:

It is the highest since records began in August 2007.

The number waiting more than a year was 304,044 in January – the highest for any month since January 2008.

In comparison, the number in January 2020 was just 1,643.

With lockdown in force and many hospitals dealing with record numbers of Covid patients, January also saw a 54% drop in people admitted for routine treatment.

Some 139,378 patients were admitted, compared with 304,888 the same time last year.

As Dr James Moreton Wakeley wrote in Lockdown Sceptics yesterday, there is “ample evidence of the impact of the campaign of fear that shows the concerns aren’t merely theoretical”.

The Telegraph’s report is worth reading in full.

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