1 in 7 cancer patients miss surgery during lockdowns

04/10/2021

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Wednesday, 6th October: A global research study into the impact of Covid on cancer services has today published its findings in The Lancet Oncology.

Almost 5,000 surgeons and anaesthetists from around the world worked together as part of the COVIDSurg Collaborative to analyse data from the 15 most common solid cancer types in 20,000 patients across 466 hospitals in 61 countries.

Patients awaiting surgery for more than six weeks during full lockdown were significantly less likely to have their planned cancer surgery.  Frail patients, those with advanced cancer, and those waiting surgery in lower-middle income countries were all less likely have the cancer operation they urgently needed.

The study co-lead author Mr. James Glasbey, from the University of Birmingham, commented: In order to prevent further harm during future lockdownswe must make the systems around elective surgery more resilient – protecting elective surgery beds and operating theatre space, and properly resourcing ‘surge’ capacity for periods of high demand on the hospital, whether that is COVID, the flu or other public health emergencies.”

Researchers analysed data from adult patients suffering from cancer types including colorectal, oesophageal, gastric, head and neck, thoracic, liver, pancreatic, prostate, bladder, renal, gynaecological, breast, soft-tissue sarcoma, bony sarcoma, and intracranial malignancies.

The team believes that this data can help inform governments when making decisions about whether to prolong or reduce restrictions.

They have produced a brief guide for cancer patients during the pandemic which can be seen here.

To read a copy of the press release see here.

You can read the full report in The Lancet Oncology here.

More detailed information about the specific impact on prostate, bladder and kidney cancers are expected to follow in the coming months.