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6th July 2020

Impact of COVID-19 pandemic on cancer care features on BBC Panorama

Research from UCL with DATA-CAN will feature on BBC Panorama this evening (Monday 6 July at 19.30).

The research data, originally published as a preprint in April 2020, revealed that the COVID-19 pandemic in England could result in at least 20 per cent more deaths of over the next 12 months in people who have been newly diagnosed with cancer.

The study estimated that pre-COVID-19, about 31,354 newly diagnosed cancer patients would die within a year in England. As a result of the COVID-19 emergency, there could be at least 6,270 additional deaths in newly diagnosed cancer patients alone. This number could rise to an estimated 17,915 additional deaths if all people currently living with cancer are considered.

Prof Mark Lawler, Scientific Lead of DATA-CAN, and Professor Geoff Hall, Clinical Lead and Deputy Director of DATA-CAN, were both interviewed for the BBC Panorama programme.

Professor Lawler told BBC Panorama, “Initial data that we got was very worrying to us. Anecdotally, people have been telling us there were problems, but I think the critical thing was being able to actually have routine data from hospital trusts. Obviously scientists like to be right in terms of their analysis, but I hope I’m wrong in relation to that.”

The researchers emphasised the importance of weekly national data on mortality and cancer services activity to be made available urgently, to enable better understanding of which disease combinations pose the greatest risk to life and inform how health services should be prioritised in order to give patients the best possible life chances.

BBC Panorama – Britain’s Cancer Crisis is on BBC One at 19.30, Monday 6 July 2020.

Download the full research paper here.

Read the original media release.