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Found 60 results
  1. Content Article
    Main findings: Overall for many cancer patients the COVID-19 pandemic appears to have had a significant impact on their testing and treatment, and most notably their care. This has resulted in a negative impact on the emotional well-being of many cancer patients. The government actions that yielded the strongest support during the COVID-19 pandemic were those that would continue to allow testing and treatment to go ahead safely. The actions most supported after the COVID-19 pandemic were ones that would ensure capacity could be met and the backlog of cancer patients addressed.
  2. News Article
    As part of a £160m initiative, the NHS will look to roll out and expand ‘Covid-friendly’ cancer treatments which are safer for patients during the pandemic, the health service’s Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens has announced. The funding will help pay for drugs which treat patients without having as significant of an impact on their immune system, or which could offer other benefits such as a reduced number of hospital visits. Almost 50 treatments have been approved for use as ‘swaps’ for existing drugs, with thousands of patients having already benefitted, and more are expected to be made available this week as part of deals struck between the NHS and pharmaceutical companies. Within these treatments include options which allow patients to take tablets at home or receive medicines with fewer side effects rather than undergoing hospital-based treatment which can leave them more susceptible to coronavirus and other infections. Sir Stevens said: “Since the first case of Covid in England six months ago, NHS staff have fast tracked new, innovative ways of working so that other services, including A&E, cancer and maternity could continue safely for patients and it is thanks to these incredible efforts that 65,000 people could start treatment for cancer during the pandemic. “We are now adopting new, kinder treatment options which are not only effective but safer for use during the Covid-19 pandemic and more convenient for thousands of patients, who can take medication at home or be given medicines with less harmful effects on their immune system.” Read full story Source: National Health Executive, 3 August 2020
  3. News Article
    A sponge-on-a-string pill test could transform the way oesophageal cancer is diagnosed, researchers say. The method can identify 10 times more people with Barrett’s oesophagus than the usual GP route, scientists say. The test, which can be carried out by a nurse in the GP surgery, is also better at picking up abnormal cells and potentially early-stage cancer. Barrett’s oesophagus is a condition that can lead to oesophageal cancer, cancer of the food pipe, in a small number of people. Normally it is diagnosed in hospital by endoscopy, which involves passing a camera down into the stomach, following a GP referral for long-standing heartburn symptoms. The cytosponge test, developed by researchers at the University of Cambridge, is a small pill with a thread attached that the patient swallows. It expands into a small sponge when it reaches the stomach, and is then quickly pulled back up the throat by a nurse, collecting cells from the oesophagus for analysis. The pill is a quick, simple and well tolerated test that can be performed in a GP surgery and helps tell doctors who needs an endoscopy. In turn, this could prevent many people from having potentially unnecessary endoscopies. Scientists say that as well as better detection, the test means cancer patients can benefit from kinder treatment options if their cancer is caught early enough. Read full story Source: The Independent, 1 August 2020
  4. News Article
    About 3,500 people in England may die within the next five years of one of the four main cancers – breast, lung, oesophageal or bowel – as a result of delays in being diagnosed because of COVID-19, say the researchers in the Lancet Oncology journal. “Our findings demonstrate the impact of the national Covid-19 response, which may cut short the lives of thousands of people with cancer in England over the next five years,” said Dr Ajay Aggarwal from the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, who led the research. Routine cancer screening was suspended during the lockdown, the authors said. So was the routine referral to hospital outpatient departments of people with symptoms that could be something else but also might possibly be cancer. Only those deemed to need emergency care by the GP or those who go to A&E are being picked up. Inevitably, those are people with more advanced cancers. If cancer is picked up at an earlier stage, successful treatment and survival are much more likely. “Whilst currently attention is being focused on diagnostic pathways where cancer is suspected, the issue is that a significant number of cancers are diagnosed in patients awaiting investigation for symptoms not considered related to be cancer. Therefore we need a whole system approach to avoid the predicted excess deaths,” said Aggarwal. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 20 July 2020
  5. News Article
    A former senior NHS official plans to sue the organisation after he had to pay a private hospital £20,000 for potentially life-saving cancer surgery because NHS care was suspended due to COVID-19. Rob McMahon, 68, decided to seek private treatment after Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS trust told him that he would have to wait much longer than usual for a biopsy. He was diagnosed with prostate cancer after an MRI scan on 19 March, four days before the lockdown began. McMahon was due to see a consultant urologist on 27 March but that was changed to a telephone consultation and then did not take place for almost two weeks. “At that appointment, the consultant said: ‘Don’t worry, these things are slow-growing. You’ll have a biopsy but not for two or three months.’ I thought, ‘that’s a long time’, so decided to see another consultant privately for a second opinion.” A PET-CT scan confirmed that he had a large tumour on both lobes of the prostate and a biopsy showed the cancer was at risk of breaking out of the prostate capsule and spreading into his body. He then paid to undergo a radical prostatectomy at a private Spire hospital. “This is care that I should have had on the NHS, not something that I should have had to pay for myself. I had an aggressive cancer. I needed urgent treatment – there was no time to waste,”, he said. “With the pandemic, he added, “it was almost like a veil came down over the NHS. He worked for the NHS for 17 years as a manager in hospitals in London, Birmingham and Redditch, Worcestershire, and was the chief executive of an NHS primary care trust in Leicester.” Mary Smith of Novum Law, McMahon’s solicitors, said: “Unfortunately, Rob’s story is one of many we are hearing about from cancer patients who have been seriously affected by the disruption to oncology services as a result of COVID-19." Read full story Source: The Guardian, 11 July 2020
  6. News Article
    Far fewer people are having surgery or cancer treatment because COVID-19 has disrupted NHS services so dramatically, and those who do are facing the longest waits on record. NHS figures reveal huge falls in the number of patients who have been going into hospital for a range of vital care in England since the pandemic began in March, prompting fears that their health will have worsened because diseases and conditions went untreated. Patients have been unable to access a wide range of normal care since non-COVID-19 services were suspended in hospitals in March so the NHS could focus on treating the disease. Many patients were also afraid to go into hospital in case they became infected, which contributed to a fall in treatment volumes. Tim Gardner, a senior policy fellow at the Health Foundation thinktank, said: “The dramatic falls in people visiting A&E, urgent referrals for suspected cancer and routine hospital procedures during lockdown are all growing evidence that more people are going without the care they need for serious health conditions." “Early diagnosis and prompt treatment of cancer is crucial to saving lives, and delays in referrals and treatment during the pandemic are likely to mean more people are diagnosed later when their illness is further advanced and harder to treat.” Read full story Source: Guardian, 9 July 2020
  7. News Article
    Urgent cancer referrals were "inappropriately" rejected by hospitals during the coronavirus lockdown without tests being carried out, GPs have said. Cancer Research UK said the findings from a survey of more than 1,000 GPs were "alarming", warning that patients whose lives may be at risk were being left "in limbo". Family doctors were surveyed in June and asked what had happened to patients they had referred to hospitals for tests in the month to that point because cancer was suspected. A quarter of GPs said urgent referrals had been inappropriately turned down by hospitals more often than had been the case before the pandemic. Four in 10 said that, when tests were refused, patients had been left without proper checks to see whether their case could safely be left without investigation. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 8 July 2020
  8. Content Article
    The charities have put together a 12-point plan across the two phases of the pandemic that NHS England are planning for, restoration (phase II) and recovery (phase III). Across all of these recommendations close monitoring and adequate action is needed to ensure inequalities are addressed. In addition, they have set out plans to get the significant transformation agenda for June 2020 cancer services back on track, as simply restoring to pre-COVID-19 levels and models of service is not sufficient to deliver the improved outcomes that patients in this country expect and deserve. Keeping baseline services running. Covid-protected environments. Diagnosis and referrals. Personalised care. Clinical trials. Supporting the vulnerable. Preventing cancer. Workforce. Screening programmes. Guidance. Innovation. Long-term ambitions.
  9. News Article
    Almost half a million people are waiting at least six weeks for tests which could diagnose cancer – up from just 30,000 before lockdown, new analysis shows. Ministers have been urged to urgently bring forward plans to tackle the backlog of patients waiting for care, with calls for weekly testing of staff to keep coronavirus infections off the wards. Cancer charities fear there will be an extra 18,000 deaths a year because those with symptoms are not receiving prompt diagnosis and treatment. Read full story (paywalled) Source: The Telegraph, 23 June 2020
  10. News Article
    Huge numbers of people with suspected cancer were not referred to hospital for urgent checks or did not have a test during the first month of the lockdown, prompting fears that late diagnosis of the disease will reduce some patients’ chances of survival. Unprecedented numbers of cancer patients missed out on vital treatments, diagnostic tests and outpatient appointments as the pandemic unfolded, NHS England data shows. Macmillan Cancer Support estimates that 210,000 people should have entered the system this month. That means roughly 130,000 people who would ordinarily be referred to a consultant have not been. About 7% of these patients would usually require cancer treatment, meaning approximately 9,000 people might not have had their cancer diagnosed in April. The organisation said that around 2,500 people who should have been referred for their first treatment after a cancer diagnosis will not have received that treatment. Read full story Source: The Guardian, 11 June 2020
  11. News Article
    As the death toll from the virus soars above 40,000, slowly the horrendous toll on non-Covid patients is emerging. These are patients who are not afflicted by coronavirus, but who have had their treatment or diagnosis for other potentially deadly conditions postponed or cancelled, as hospitals scrambled to make way for an overwhelming burden of COVID-19 patients. Sherwin Hall, a 27-year-old from Leeds, had tried 13 times in one month during the lockdown to get a proper diagnosis for the crippling pain in his groin. He was initially told it might be a sexually transmitted disease. Eventually he was given the all clear of any STD after multiple blood tests and begged for an MRI scan. But he claims he was told no scans would be available because of the COVID-19 emergency. Finally he got a scan which confirmed a 14 cm tumour near his pelvis. He clams his consultant confirmed the delay in diagnosis and therefore cancer treatment may have serious consequences on his chances of survival. He told ITV news "I am very angry at the way I have been treated due to COVID-19 and the delay on my cancer treatment and now I am fighting for my life." His lawyer, Mary Smith, who specialises in medical negligence at Novum Law in Bristol, says she is worried there will be a spike in cases involving delayed diagnosis or treatment coming across her desk. She wants an urgent overhaul of the management of this crisis, now its peak appears to have passed. Read full story Source: ITV News, 9 June 2020
  12. News Article
    The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically curtailed the provision of health services for non-communicable diseases, says a survey of 155 countries by the World Health Organization conducted over three weeks in May. In the survey poorer countries were the most likely to report disrupted services, but some 94% of responding countries had reassigned health ministry staff from work on NCDs to dealing with the pandemic. Hypertension treatment has been partially or completely disrupted in 53% of the countries surveyed, diabetes treatment in 49%, cancer treatment in 42%, and cardiovascular emergency responses in 31% of countries, the survey found. In the Netherlands, new cancer diagnoses have fallen by 25% since the pandemic lockdown began. In rural India, 30% fewer cardiac emergencies reached health facilities in March 2020 than the previous year. Rehabilitation services, which are often key to a healthy recovery after severe COVID-19, have been disrupted in 63% of countries surveyed. Screening campaigns have been put on hold in more than half. WHO’s director general, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, said, “The results of this survey confirm what we’ve been hearing from countries for a number of weeks now. Many people who need treatment for diseases like cancer, cardiovascular disease, and diabetes have not been receiving the health services and medicines they need since the COVID-19 pandemic began. It’s vital that countries find innovative ways to ensure that essential services for NCDs continue, even as they fight COVID-19.” Read full story Source: BMJ, 3 June 2020
  13. News Article
    About 2.4 million people in the UK are waiting for cancer screening, treatment or tests, as a result of disruption to the NHS during the past 10 weeks, according to Cancer Research UK. It estimates 2.1 million have missed out on screening, while 290,000 people with suspected symptoms have not been referred for hospital tests. More than 23,000 cancers could have gone undiagnosed during lockdown. Chief executive Michelle Mitchell said COVID-19 has placed an "enormous strain on cancer services". "The NHS has had to make very hard decisions to balance risk," she said. "...there have been some difficult discussions with patients about their safety and ability to continue treatment during this time. Prompt diagnosis and treatment remain crucial to give people with cancer the greatest chances of survival and prevent the pandemic taking even more lives." To ensure no-one is put at risk from the virus now that cancer care is returning, Cancer Research UK said "frequent testing of NHS staff and patients, including those without symptoms" was vital. Read full story Source: BBC News, 1 June 2020
  14. News Article
    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. Read full story Source: BBC News, 20 May 2020
  15. News Article
    Suspected cancer patients are being refused hospital appointments despite being referred by GPs, it has emerged. Family doctors working for one NHS trust in north east London claimed that hundreds of referrals had been rejected in recent weeks. Many were for ultrasounds and chest X-rays and were sent via the two-week wait system, in which suspected cancer patients referred by GPs are seen within a fortnight. A rejection letter sent from Whipps Cross hospital seen by Pulse magazine, said the referral had been “due to the Covid-19 pandemic”. It added: “Following triage by a consultant radiologist, your imaging request has been assessed as non-urgent and cancelled.” Read full story Source: The Telegraph (18 May 202)
  16. News Article
    Tens of thousands of cancer patients have not yet received letters advising them to “shield” themselves from the coronavirus threat, The Times has learnt. Peter Johnson, national clinical director for cancer, has written to charities asking for their help in tracing the missing patients and alerting them to the need to take stringent self-protection measures against infection. His appeal comes as the government increased by one million its estimate of the number of people at greatest risk of severe illness should they contract COVID-19. Its new strategy document stated that it had identified 2.5 million people who were “clinically extremely vulnerable and advised to shield”. At the onset of the lockdown in March, ministers estimated the number at 1.5 million. Professor Johnson’s letter, seen by The Times, states: “We are still receiving reports of cancer patients who believe that they should have received a shielding letter but have not yet received one or have not been added to the national list. It is crucial that those who are clinically extremely vulnerable receive a letter advising them to shield. Read full story Source: The Times, 12 May 2020
  17. News Article
    A Nottingham mum recovering from breast cancer surgery said she 'hates to think' what could have happened, if she had let the cancer go undetected. Claire Knee, 45 of Beeston, was diagnosed with breast cancer in March shortly before lockdown measures were introduced. Having felt slightly off and noticing lumps in her breast, she was encouraged to contact her GP who referred her for tests. After a serious of diagnostic tests at Nottingham City Hospital's Breast Institute, specialists confirmed the presence of a tumour in the early stages. Surgeons successfully removed the tumour from her right breast amid the pandemic and Claire has been recommended some follow up treatment. She now wants to share her experience of seeking help and getting treatment to advise others who may be showing signs of cancer but are too scared to contact their GP. "Looking back I just think that if I hadn’t made the call to my GP I would be walking around with undetected breast cancer, which could still be growing now. I would urge anyone in similar circumstances to contact their GP and get checked - even if it’s just for peace of mind.” Read full story Source: Nottinghamshire Live, 4 May
  18. News Article
    The coronavirus pandemic could lead to almost 18,000 more deaths from cancer in England over the next year and there could also be a 20% spike in fatalities of newly diagnosed cancer patients, according to research by University College London (UCL) and DATA-CAN, the Health Data Research Hub for Cancer. The figures stem from real-time hospital data for urgent cancer referrals and chemotherapy attendances, which have experienced a 76% and 60% fall, respectively. Professor Peter Johnson, the NHS Clinical Director for Cancer, has urged people to not hesitate in seeking help or being checked after worrying research showed nearly half of the public have concerns about seeking help. Moreover, the poll by Portland revealed 1 in 10 people would not contact their GP even if they discovered a lump or a new mole that remained for a week or more. Read full story Source: BBC News, 28 April 2020
  19. News Article
    Delays in diagnosing and treating people with cancer could lead to more years of lost life than with COVID-19, according to a leading cancer expert. A drop-off in screening and referrals means roughly 2,700 fewer people are being diagnosed every week, Cancer Research UK says. Cancer screening has paused in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with few invitations sent out in England. People are still advised to contact their GP with worrying symptoms. But Richard Sullivan, professor of cancer and global health at King's College London, said there was more fear of Covid-19 than of having cancer at the moment. With GPs more difficult to contact than normal, this was resulting in a "dramatic drop-off" in referrals to specialists, he said. "Most modellers in the UK estimate excess of deaths is going to be way greater than we are going to see with Covid-19," he said. Read full story Source: 22 April 2020, BBC News
  20. News Article
    Cancer doctors say difficult decisions are having to be made to postpone some patients' care during the coronavirus crisis. Some treatments such as chemotherapy can weaken the immune system, and potentially put patients at greater risk from COVID-19. Some of those affected have been expressing concern. Roisin Pelan is 38 and lives in Lancashire. She has incurable breast cancer and had been taking chemotherapy tablets every day. Every three months she also visits the hospital to receive the drug intravenously. Last month she was told her chemotherapy treatment would be stopped for 12 weeks. "It's terrifying they've stopped treatment that I know is keeping me alive," she says. "To have that taken away is just unbearable. How do we know it's only going to be 12 weeks? This pandemic could go on a lot longer." NHS England has told trusts that all essential and urgent cancer treatments must continue but specialists should discuss with patients whether it is riskier for them to undergo it or delay. Read full story Source: BBC News, 13 April 2020
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