Intended for healthcare professionals


Prioritising research into cancer treatment delays

BMJ 2020; 371 doi: (Published 04 November 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;371:m4261

Linked Research

Mortality due to cancer treatment delay

  1. Ambica Parmar, assistant professor1,
  2. Kelvin K W Chan, associate professor1 2
  1. 1Odette Cancer Centre, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, University of Toronto, 2075 Bayview Avenue, Room T2-058, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada
  2. 2Canadian Centre for Applied Research in Cancer Control, Toronto, ON, Canada
  1. Correspondence to: K K W Chan kelvin.chan{at}

Better data are essential for effective cancer care both during and after the covid-19 pandemic

Timely access to cancer treatment is an urgent priority for patients and their clinicians. A large body of evidence already shows the deleterious impact of excessive waiting times on outcomes for patients with cancer needing treatment with curative intent,12345 prompting the creation of target waiting times for many cancer treatments.67 Since March 2020, coronavirus disease 2019 (covid-19) has delayed patients’ access to cancer treatments across many health jurisdictions, causing international concern about the unintended consequences of pandemic control measures for these patients, and driving a surge of interest in mathematical modelling to help quantify likely changes in long term mortality among affected patients.8910 Modelling efforts so far have been hampered by a lack of high quality data, in particular by heterogeneity in real world evidence linking treatment delays with increased mortality.

In a linked paper, Hanna and colleagues report a systematic review and meta-analysis (doi:10.1136/bmj.m4087) of the contemporary …

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