The new report finds fewer cancer diagnostic tests conducted in 2020 as compared to the last year. The Cancer Research UK explains that the current pandemic has reduced the lab’s capacity to proceed with diagnostic tests for different types of cancers.
Till the end of May, at least 180,000 patients were in line to get an endoscopy which is 44% more than the last year. Among these people, 66% were waiting for more than six weeks to get these tests done.
In comparison with the last year’s figures, in 2020, people waiting for colonoscopies increased by 51%. For flexi-sigmoidoscopies, a diagnostic tool for bowel cancer, this number increased by 46%. The increase in gastroscopy patients is 44% which is a typical test for oesophageal cancer. Additionally, 23% higher number of patients are waiting to get their cystoscopy done which helps to detect bladder cancer patients.
Cancer Research UK shares its concern over these delays and test awaiting patients. All of these tests are important to control the spread of their diseases and reducing them from further complications.
All this is happening because most of the doctors are serving the coronavirus patients and promoting coronavirus testing is somehow masking these other types of tests. Unfortunately, this delay is not the only problem that the NHS is experiencing while dealing with cancer patients.
This report by the Cancer Research UK also shows that overall this year reported 2.3 million lesser cancer diagnostic tests as compared to the last year. The situation is hugely affected by the new pandemic which is still out of control.
From the beginning of March to the end of May, there was a 46% decline in seven common tests that are helpful in diagnosing a number of diseases. These tests include MRI, ultrasound, and even CT scans as well. This reduction has many subsiding reasons, for example, uncertainty over the new deadly virus and governmental recommendations of maintaining isolation and social distancing.
Staff shortage is however an old concern which is not a direct cause of these delays in cancer diagnostic tests. The reports before the pandemic show that many diagnostic positions are vacant and there is a huge demand for experts as the number of cancer patients is constantly at a rise.
The British government is now paying attention to unreasonable delays in necessary testing including endoscopy.
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Michelle Mitchell who holds the executive chair at Cancer Research UK says that the country is passing through the worst phase of this pandemic and the increased number of patients every day. These people whose lives depend upon these diagnostic tests for cancer are ignored largely which could affect their survival chances as well.
The Government has to work alongside NHS to make sure that there is no staff, testing, or equipment shortage in any hospital. This requires immediate action because the list of tests awaiting patients is already long and a delay will simply make it even longer.
Cancer patients are being ignored in this ongoing pandemic and with this delay, the cancer research programs could lag behind, causing a financial as well as resource loss. thousands of cancer patients need public attention and only with support from other people, this cancer testing and research program can proceed further and complete its agenda in the future.