Intended for healthcare professionals


Cancer treatments fall as referrals are slow to recover, show figures

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 13 October 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m3958
  1. Elisabeth Mahase
  1. The BMJ

The number of cancer patients starting treatment between April and July 2020 in the UK has reduced by 26% (31 000) compared with the same period in 2019, according to figures analysed by Cancer Research UK.1

The charity said the drop is from a reduction in the number of people being referred to or attending secondary care, as well as the pause of screening programmes and some diagnostic tests because of the pandemic.

Figures for England show that urgent suspected lung cancer referrals have been the slowest to recover since April, with numbers still only 60% of pre-covid-19 levels at the end of September. There were 17 500 two week referrals made for …

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