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Getting cancer services back on track: a diagnostics sector role

Healthcare leaders are calling upon government and health providers to drastically scale-up and improve cancer services in the wake of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic. This article provides an insight into some of the key recommendations for a recovery.

Nearly half of people who experienced possible cancer symptoms in the first wave of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic did not contact their GP, according to research carried out by Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK, published early this year. The findings focused on the experiences of 7543 people from March to August 2020.1

        Possible cancer symptoms were commonly experienced during the first wave, the survey found, with 40.1% of participants (3025 people) saying they had experienced at least one potential symptom. Of those who experienced symptoms, a substantial proportion (44.8%) reported not contacting their GP for any symptom, even for red flags such as coughing up blood (30.7% of those who experienced this symptom did not seek help), an unexplained lump or swelling (41% did not seek help) or a change in the appearance of a mole (58.6% did not seek help). Principal investigator Professor Kate Brain, a health psychologist from Cardiff University’s School of Medicine, said people had “put their health concerns on hold to protect the NHS”.

        A significant number were concerned about ‘wasting healthcare professionals’ time’ (15.4%), others worried about putting extra strain on the NHS (12.6%) or being seen as ‘someone who makes a fuss’ (12%), some reported difficulty with access to healthcare services (10.3%), while around 9.6% worried about catching coronavirus.

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