It has been a while since I thought back to that week in 2012 when I received news that three close family members had been diagnosed with cancer — two in my household. Newly published figures on how Covid-19 has delayed cancer referrals and treatments brought the memory back. I’m grateful those cases didn’t arise in the middle of a pandemic, but alarmed at the implications for those fighting cancer now.
New data from the U.K.’s National Health Service showed how the focus on Covid-19 has been impacting cancer care. Urgent cancer referrals fell by 60% in April compared with the same month last year. That’s a major concern given how important early diagnosis is to successful treatment and cancer survival rates. This, and other recent data, are a grim reminder that the NHS’s much-lauded response to the pandemic has come at a cost.