Many Londoners with cancer or with cancer symptoms are being left to wait for next steps in fear, worrying about the long-term implications for their health, their families and their future.
In the capital, the pandemic has wreaked havoc on cancer care, with 955 fewer people than expected in April starting vital treatment to save, extend or improve their lives. That’s 30% lower than what we would expect[iii]. The figures for England as a whole show around 11% fewer treatments started than expected.[iv]
29-year-old Sarah Davis is a freelance artist and sculptor that lives in London. She was diagnosed with Hodgkin Lymphoma in 2017 and had to have a stem cell transplant in 2018. Although not in active treatment at the moment, she comments on the effects of the pandemic on her cancer care:
“My check-ups are now over the phone and a couple clinics I attended to manage treatment-related side effects have been completely cancelled. These include high risk breast cancer screening due to radiotherapy and the menopause clinic.
“Not only do I live in fear because of the coronavirus and feel the effects of shielding, I also worry about our cancer care and long-term health.”
Sara Bainbridge, Head of Policy & Influence at Macmillan Cancer Support, says:
“The picture of cancer care in London today is a sobering demonstration of the serious impact coronavirus has had.
“We’ve been calling for an urgent recovery plan for NHS cancer services since April, to ensure cancer does not become the forgotten ‘C’ throughout this crisis. The Government must now urgently commit to measures to address the backlog, including the allocation of the staffing and resources needed to deliver the safest possible care.
“At the same time, we urge people with suspected cancer symptoms to see their GP.”
During the pandemic, Macmillan continues supporting people with cancer and gives them practical, emotional and financial help. We rely entirely on public donations and our income has dropped significantly. To donate to Macmillan Cancer Support’s emergency appeal please go to: https://www.macmillan.org.uk/emergency or call 0300 1000 200.