Support 100 years of independent journalism.

  1. Science & Tech
  2. Coronavirus
20 May 2020updated 06 Oct 2020 9:45am

Thousands of cancer patients will die early because of delayed treatment, study warns

By Samuel Horti

The coronavirus pandemic could cause nearly 5,000 cancer patients to die earlier than expected because of delays in their treatment, the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) has said.

Disruption to cancer treatment will lead to some people’s disease becoming incurable, it said. While delays will make no difference to the survival of patients with certain forms of cancer, others with stage one to three cancer, who would usually hope to be cured by surgery, may no longer survive.

“For people with prostate cancer, a delay of a few months won’t make much difference. But bowel cancer and bladder cancer are ones you wouldn’t want to leave,” said Clare Turnbull, a professor of cancer genomics at the institute. “If you delay for three months, 10 to 15 per cent of people who would get cured don’t, and if you leave it for six months then it’s 25 to 30 per cent.”

The study modelled the outcomes of the 95,000 cancer patients who undergo surgery in England every year. A three month delay would lead to the deaths of 4,755 more people than would normally be expected, it said.

Sign up for The New Statesman’s newsletters Tick the boxes of the newsletters you would like to receive. Quick and essential guide to domestic and global politics from the New Statesman's politics team. The New Statesman’s global affairs newsletter, every Monday and Friday. The best of the New Statesman, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning. The New Statesman’s weekly environment email on the politics, business and culture of the climate and nature crises - in your inbox every Thursday. A handy, three-minute glance at the week ahead in companies, markets, regulation and investment, landing in your inbox every Monday morning. Our weekly culture newsletter – from books and art to pop culture and memes – sent every Friday. A weekly round-up of some of the best articles featured in the most recent issue of the New Statesman, sent each Saturday. A newsletter showcasing the finest writing from the ideas section and the NS archive, covering political ideas, philosophy, criticism and intellectual history - sent every Wednesday. Sign up to receive information regarding NS events, subscription offers & product updates.

Content from our partners
How do we secure the hybrid office?
How materials innovation can help achieve net zero and level-up the UK
Fantastic mental well-being strategies and where to find them