The study highlighted the additional health consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, estimating that there could be approximately 18,000 additional COVID-19 related deaths in cancer patients within the next 1-year period. Additionally, the study suggested that this number could be as great at 36,000 additional deaths. The study indicated that excess deaths would be a consequence of cancer sufferers contracting COVID-19, but also because of diagnosis or treatment being delayed.
A number of outlets featured the study outcomes including BBC Panorama’s ‘Britain’s Cancer Crisis’, the Independent’s ‘Cancer is the other ‘big C’ we can’t afford to push aside’ and Macmillian Cancer Support’s ‘The Forgotten ‘C’? The impact of Covid-19 on cancer care’.
The work was included in SAGE priorities during the pandemic and informed several policy changes including the early focus on ‘indirect’ deaths, the weekly reporting of excess deaths by the Office for National Statistics, and approaches to understanding vulnerable patients.
Media interest led to a noticeable shift in national policy which is likely to positively impact the outcomes for cancer patients during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic:
‘Since we published our work in April, the NHS has released guidance urging the public to seek help for cancer symptoms,’ said Dr Alvina Lai, HDR UK associated researcher. ‘From our data, we can see that urgent refers for cancer diagnosis have gone up since we published our study.’
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