Missing Cancer Diagnosis Rates Soar in Recent Months

Doctor holds hands and leaves comforting counsellors to patient.

Macmillian Cancer Support reports a “mountain of almost 50,000 people” are still missing a cancer diagnosis in the UK.

As the NHS struggles to cope with overwhelming demand, Macmillian warns that the Government must take urgent action. New analysis shows that the NHS would need to work at 110% capacity for 13 months straight to catch up with the number of people who should have started cancer treatment since March 2020.

A long, difficult winter ahead combined with fears over new Covid-19 variations could be fatal to cancer care in the UK. Macmillian is calling on the Government to address the severe capacity issues and provide sufficient staff to care for and support all cancer patients.

“While hard-working healthcare professionals continue to do all they can to diagnose and treat patients on time, they are fighting an uphill battle.  Cancer patients are stuck, waiting in a system that doesn’t have the capacity to treat them fast enough, let alone deal with the backlog of thousands who have yet to come forward.”

Said Steven McIntosh, Executive Director of Advocacy and Communications at Macmillan Cancer Support.

 

The future of cancer care

Patients are starting to worry more about the future of cancer care. New data reveals that those living with cancer in the UK who think cancer services will remain a priority for the NHS has dropped from 76% to 56% in recent months.

If you or a loved one is struggling with diagnostic delays and long wait times, please contact Macmillan for support or advice.

Ellen Lang, Service Manager on the Macmillan Support Line, says:

“People are often incredibly distressed about how delays are affecting their prognosis or treatment options, with many feeling like their survival chances are being impacted by the enormous pressures on the NHS.”

 

Are certain cancer types affected more than others?

The number of people with missing diagnoses varies depending on which cancer type. Prostate cancer has taken one of the most significant hits. Confirmed cases of prostate cancer have fallen by almost a quarter (-23%) compared with pre-Covid expectations.

Other cancer types that have been most affected include:

  • •   Multiple myeloma (-14%)
  • •   Lymphoid leukaemia (-12%)
  • •   Breast cancer (-12%)

 

The number of missing diagnoses for breast cancer is extremely worrying because the rate of advanced breast cancer has increased dramatically. Advanced breast cancer rates are up as much as 48% compared to pre-covid rates.

Additionally, the number of women diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer is far less than predicted. This adds to the fear that the disruption caused by the pandemic means fewer and fewer people are being diagnosed at an early stage.

Early detection is of paramount importance to avoid intensive treatments and increase chances of survival.

 

What needs to change?

 McIntosh adds:

“The Government has promised an NHS Elective Recovery Plan. This must show how it will tackle spiralling pressures on cancer services. It has never been more crucial to boost NHS capacity to treat and support everybody with cancer, so people receive the critical care they need now and in the years to come.”

 

At RMDM, we are committed to early detection and helping to clear the cancer backlog.

To help enable earlier detection, we are working hard to make our PanTum Detect test available in the UK. We are currently discussing potential partnerships with labs and clinics around the UK.

PanTum Detect can detect all cancers via a simple blood test, making it affordable and accessible for a primary care setting. To learn more about PanTum Detect, please have a read of our whitepaper.

If you would like to partner with RMDM or find out more about PanTum Detect, please get in touch via our contact form.

 

Resources:

https://medium.com/macmillan-press-releases-and-statements/mountain-of-almost-50-000-people-still-missing-a-cancer-diagnosis-in-the-uk-as-nhs-already-f533f178cef3#_ednref4

https://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/nov/26/late-diagnosis-of-breast-cancer-rises-as-nhs-struggles-in-covid-crisis

https://www.macmillan.org.uk/