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Coronavirus: Cancer surgery delays risk 'thousands' of deaths

The NHS must ensure cancer-surgery delays do not cost more lives than the number of COVID-19 patients saved, the Institute of Cancer Research says.

In some cancers, a three-month delay could make the difference between a tumour being curable or not, Prof Clare Turnbull said.

And her modelling suggested delaying surgery risked thousands of additional deaths.

NHS England is already urging people to seek help for worrying symptoms, but by the end of April, cancer referrals had dropped by an estimated 70%.

Cancer doctors have told BBC News of having to make difficult decisions to postpone some patients' care during the coronavirus crisis.

As normal service resumed, the NHS should prioritise "certain cancer types in particular", Prof Turnbull said.

Lung and colorectal cancers, for example, were particularly fast moving. But for others, such as prostate and certain breast cancers, treatment could more safely be delayed.

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Source: BBC News, 20 May 2020


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