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Don’t let cancer become the forgotten C in our fight against COVID-19 – WHO Europe hears about DATA-CAN research

21st September 2020

Prof Mark Lawler spoke at the World Health Organisation European Region annual meeting in his role as Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s COVID-19 Network.

DATA-CAN’s scientific director, Prof Mark Lawler, spoke at the World Health Organisation European Region annual meeting in his role as Co-Chair of the European Cancer Organisation’s COVID-19 Network.

Prof Lawler spoke about DATA-CAN’s research on the effect of the pandemic on cancer care which found that there have been significant delays in referrals and treatment. He emphasised that, as countries collaborate in rebuilding health systems after the COVID-19 emergency, rebuilding cancer services must be an urgent priority.

Mark said, “While we are seeing a positive recovery in cancer referrals and chemotherapy appointments, there have been significant diagnostic and treatment delays. Our data indicates that getting back to pre-COVID-19 levels is simply not enough. We need to be nearer 130 per cent of capacity to address the backlog and serve our citizens best. Data shows us where to prioritise our resources. So I exhort you – follow the science, follow the data. COVID-19 does not respect national borders.”

He also emphasised the importance of collecting near real-time data to enable health systems across Europe to respond to COVID-19, telling the WHO, “Real-time data is key. If your data is three months old, you are really trying to fight COVID-19 with one hand behind your back.”

Watch a video clip of Professor Lawler’s speech to the WHO Europe annual meeting below.

Statement made by Mark Lawler on behalf of European Cancer Organisation for the WHO Regional Committee for Europe seventieth session.