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New research suggests that ongoing delays to cancer diagnosis and treatment due to coronavirus could cause up to 35,000 excess deaths in the UK within a year.
Representing a worst-case scenario, the findings claim that up to two million routine breast, bowel and cervical cancer screenings may have been missed as a result of the pandemic, with urgent referrals and treatments having also been delayed or cancelled.
The study, conducted by DATA-CAN, the Health Care Research Hub (HDR UK) for Cancer, modelled different outcomes depending on how long services take to get back to normal levels. It argues that in a worst-case scenario there could be 35,000 additional cancer deaths within a year if delays continue.
The most recent HDR UK research, shared with BBC Panorama, show that the rates of urgent cancer referrals were 45 per cent below pre-emergency levels at the end of May.
Speaking to BBC Panorama, Mark Lawler, Scientific Lead of DATA-CAN, said: "Initial data that we got was very worrying to us. Anecdotally, people have been telling us there were problems, but I think the critical thing was being able to actually have routine data from hospital trusts. Obviously scientists like to be right in terms of their analysis, but I hope I'm wrong in relation to that.”
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