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2020-July-6  15:51

Report: Up to 35,000 More Cancer Patients Could Die in UK in A Year Due to COVID-19

TEHRAN (FNA)- Up to 35,000 more cancer patients in UK could die in a year due to treatment delays caused by the coronavirus pandemic, experts warned.

The extent of excess deaths has been predicted by the UK's leading cancer data research hub, Daily Mail reported.

Modelling by Data-Can, which collects figures on cancer treatments and is linked to leading universities, suggests the UK could see at least 18,000 more cancer deaths than normal – rising to 35,000 in the worst-case scenario.

The horrific toll is a stark illustration of the indirect impact of the pandemic on the nation's health, with many appointments and procedures postponed as hospitals prioritised treatment of COVID-19.

Separate polling suggests the aftermath of the crisis will be felt for months and years to come, with half of patients still scared of going to hospital even as the threat of the virus recedes.

Mike Birtwistle, health policy expert at the Incisive Health consultancy, which polled 2,000 British adults, said, "We are facing a coronavirus timebomb which could result in poor health outcomes, pain and misery for years to come," adding, "Levels of coronavirus may be falling but public fear is still very real. I fear an explosion of ill-health is inevitable."

The cancer mortality figures are highlighted tonight in an episode of Panorama on BBC called Britain's Cancer Crisis. 

Urgent referrals for cancer care have dropped significantly and treatments have been delayed or cancelled.

According to Data-Can, urgent cancer referrals up to the end of May were down by 44.5 percent on pre-coronavirus levels.

Professor Pat Price, a clinical oncologist interviewed by Panorama, stated in some hospitals radiotherapy machines were "lying idle which could have saved lives". 

She noted, "It has been safe to give radiotherapy during COVID-19, we know that now. We were told not to do this. We are looking at a huge number of unavoidable deaths."

NHS England defended the situation, announcing there was a "balance" to be struck between treating cancer and the risk of patients coming into hospital and catching the virus.