Cancer Research UK and 50 leaders from across the NHS and cancer community have authored a letter to the Prime Minister and first Ministers in Scotland and Wales, and First and Deputy First Ministers of Northern Ireland to fight for cancer care and research. The letter calls for the elected politicians to stand by their commitments to improving cancer survival and work to ensure that all in the United Kingdom (UK) can still receive cancer diagnosis, treatment and care throughout this next wave of the COVID-19 crisis.
Mounting Problem in the UK
The winter months look dark unfortunately as the next surge of COVID-19 now ensures that more extensive measures are implemented to control the spread of the coronavirus. Throughout the pandemic, cancer patients have faced enormous challenges due to lock downs, hospital capacity and fears of visiting the general provider due to risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection. In the meantime, a mounting backlog of cancer patients needing screening, diagnostic tests and various treatments point to a growing crisis in cancer care and access to research trials.
What are the Lessons from the First Wave
As discussed by Matt Sample, Policy Advisor with Cancer Research, after eight months of pandemic, the cancer care community in the UK is much clearer about the pandemic’s impact on cancer care and research. Some key points: over 30,000 less people commenced cancer treatment than at the same time as last year while most cancer-related clinical trials were unfortunately disrupted.
Ramp Back Up
Cancer UK’s Matt Sample reports that cancer services (care and research) are coming back due primarily to the heroism of the NHS staff. With the number of suspected cancer patients referrals nearly back to normal, the signals look promising for access to care and research.
But Challenges Continue
However, some patients with certain types of cancer continue to face challenging conditions. For example, Cancer UK reports that those with lung or urological cancer are still not getting as seen as much as they should with dangerously low referral numbers as compared to past years. Moreover, the ramp up of clinical trials, often a lifeline for cancer patients, are indeed moving forward but not at the velocity needed.
Who is Cancer Research UK?
Cancer Research UK is a cancer research and awareness charity in the UK and Isle of Man, formed in 2002 by the merger of the Cancer Research Campaign and the Imperial Cancer Research Fund. The organization’s goal is to reduce the number of deaths from cancer. They are purportedly the largest independent cancer research charity and sponsors significant cancer research. The organization primarily raises funds via the public.
Call to Action: Follow the link to read the entire Cancer Research UK update.