Following the outbreak of coronavirus in March, Cancer Research UK has revealed that lung cancer referrals have dropped by an astonishing 50% during the pandemic.
This statistic is a huge cause for concern given that lung cancer remains one of the deadliest forms of cancer, and early diagnosis is absolutely critical when it comes to the best chances of survival.
There are a number of different factors contributing to this shocking statistic, and one of the main ones is understood to be similarities between lung cancer and coronavirus symptoms. Both illnesses can cause a persistent cough, a lack of energy, and breathlessness. Patients with these symptoms could be assuming that it is simply a case of coronavirus and they may not visit their GP to check if it could be lung cancer.
Drop in lung cancer referrals
In a normal year, there are roughly 34,000 expected lung cancer referrals. However, likely due to the outbreak of coronavirus, there have only been around 16,000 referrals this year.
Cancer Research UK has expressed its worry for cancer patients who have mistaken their symptoms for coronavirus. The charity believes that a considerable factor when it comes to people not visiting their GP is the government advice to ‘stay home, protect the NHS, save lives’.
It is thought that this advice could have had a detrimental effect on patients with lung cancer. People have been told to stay inside and protect the NHS due to the outbreak of the coronavirus, and this is exactly what many people have been doing. If people have symptoms, many may stay at home and self-isolate out of fear that they will spread a virus if they go into a doctor’s surgery or hospital.
The advice is, of course, critical to keeping people safe during the pandemic. An unfortunate side-effect of this could be problematic for other ailments like lung cancer, which is an important matter to consider.
Impact on cancer treatment following outbreak of coronavirus
Cancer Research UK estimates that as many as three million people could have missed cancer screenings since the outbreak of coronavirus in March. They have also estimated that 13,000 fewer patients underwent surgery for cancer, and that 6,000 fewer patients engaged in chemotherapy. They have also suggested that 3,000 fewer people had radiotherapy as well, and this could all be down to the current coronavirus climate and the ongoing lockdowns in England and Wales.
Following the outbreak of coronavirus at the beginning of March, many procedures were halted and set back to allow the NHS to focus their resources on coronavirus patients. Cancer Research UK fears that, because of this, there could be up to 35,000 unnecessary deaths caused by cancer.
Doctors have also revealed that they were getting less access to chest x-rays and CT scans because the machines were being used to treat coronavirus patients. These scans are two crucial parts of the lung cancer referrals and diagnosis process.
What can people do about referral issues?
When it comes to matters as serious as lung cancer referrals, there can be no delays or problems that could lead to patients losing their lives.
It is important for anyone that has suffered as a result of negligence to come forward for legal advice and representation. For eligible cases, our team of expert lawyers is able to represent clients on a No Win, No Fee basis.
Please do not hesitate to contact us here for free, no-obligation advice today.
IMPORTANT: advice on this page is intended to be up-to-date for the 'first published date'.
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