It has been reported that Professor Seamus O’Reilly, Consultant Medical Oncologist at Cork University Hospital and the Mercy University Hospital has given a warning that increased mortality is to come.
Cancer screening has been massively disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. Professor O’Reilly states “if you disrupt a screening service for six months, you increase mortality for the next decade and the data is particularly strong in patients with colorectal cancer”.
Worryingly, he also comments that survival rates will be reduced because the tumours, when detected will be more advanced. He says “instead of having a polyp removed and a scope repeated in ten years, it’s now a cancer that may need a stoma bag, which is a life-transforming event for the patient”.
The crisis does not just affect cancer patients, but also “…children with cleft palates who need time-dependent surgery, and children with scoliosis that need time-dependent surgery and the impact of these delays are just as significant for them”.
There has been further concern that unhealthy habits developed during lockdown causing lifestyle diseases that need to be treated, may put more pressure on an already stretched health system. Recently the Prime Minister revealed the financial plan to help the NHS catch-up, with the waiting list for elective treatments being reported at 5.5 million people.
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