A survey conducted by Cancer Research UK has found that a third of patients with cancer have experienced disruptions to the treatment of their condition. In addition, around four in ten of the 1900 people with cancer consulted by the charity reported disruptions to testing for cancer, including tests conducted to assess whether cancer has returned or spread.
In the period since lockdown began, cancellations, delays, and changes to planned treatments have amounted to tens of thousands of missed procedures and created a growing backlog of patients requiring treatment for cancer. In addition to concerns about catching COVID-19 or suffering more severe symptoms of the disease, patients with cancer are becoming frustrated by a lack of access to treatment and testing and anxious about disease progression.
Isolation is compounding these negative effects on the mental health of patients with cancer, and around two-thirds of the respondents said that the NHS’s ability to support their mental health had been impacted by the pandemic.
Cancer Research UK’s Chief Executive, Michelle Mitchell, said: ‘Since the peak of the pandemic, the NHS has started to restore cancer services and more people are being referred to hospital for tests… But we’re worried that treatment, diagnosis, and screening aren’t getting back on track fast enough—and the backlog is mounting.’