COVID matters report: urgent lung cancer specialist referrals down 75% in the first wave

The UK Lung Cancer Coalition has published a report describing the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on lung cancer referrals, COVID-19 matters—a review of the impact of COVID-19 on the lung cancer pathway and opportunities for innovation emerging from the health system response to the pandemic.

During the first wave of COVID-19, the number of people receiving an urgent referral to a lung cancer specialist dropped by 75%. It is expected that the reduction in referrals will cause a backlog of outpatient appointments, increase late-stage presentations, and possibly damage lung cancer survival rates. The report’s recommendations include:

  • launching a campaign to increase awareness of lung cancer symptoms and restore public confidence in early engagement with healthcare services
  • resuming lung cancer screening pilots that were already operational
  • reviewing isolation and visiting restrictions to enable critically ill patients to see their families while receiving end of life care
  • funding the establishment of community diagnostic hubs to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission while accelerating diagnostic turnaround.