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10th May 2021

Urgent action needed as one million Cancer cases are undiagnosed in Europe due to COVID-19

DATA-CAN’s Scientific Director presents evidence of the disastrous impact of COVID-19 to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan Committee.

DATA-CAN’s Scientific Director presents evidence of the disastrous impact of COVID-19 to Europe’s Beating Cancer Plan Committee.

Nearly one million Cancer cases in Europe are being missed due to COVID-19, according to new data published today by the European Cancer Organisation (E.C.O) Special Network on COVID-19 and Cancer, co-chaired by Prof Mark Lawler of Queen’s University Belfast and DATA-CAN: the UK’s Health Data Research Hub for Cancer.

The findings, a stark reminder of the challenges facing cancer care services in Europe during the pandemic, coincide with the launch of Time To Act, E.C.O’s Europe-wide campaign to urge the public, cancer patients, policymakers and healthcare professionals to ensure COVID-19 does not continue to undermine the fight against Cancer.

The study, led by E.C.O, reveals that the COVID-19 pandemic has meant that:

Mark Lawler, Scientific Director of DATA-CAN, Professor of Digital Health at Queen’s University Belfast and Co-Chair of E.C.O’s Special Network on the Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer, said,

“The scale of the problem is frightening – the disastrous impact of COVID-19 has meant that there are at least one million Europeans out there with a cancer that has not yet been diagnosed, and a further 1 in 5 of European cancer patients whose treatment has been delayed. We issue this urgent call to national governments across Europe. The Time to Act is Now. Without immediate action, the COVID-19 pandemic is poised to spark a Cancer epidemic across Europe. We require innovative solutions to strengthen cancer systems and provide the best possible care to cancer patients in the United Kingdom and across Europe.”

The data from this study and the Time To Actcampaign tools, available in over 30 languages, will be presented in a virtual event (Tuesday 11 May, 11:00-12:00 CEST), with contributions from European political leaders including EU Health Commissioner Stella Kyriakides, MEPs from the European Parliament’s Special Committee on Beating Cancer (BECA) and the Director General of DG SANTE, Sandra Gallina. Further information is available here.

Attending cancer screening appointments is critical to increasing the chance of early diagnosis when cancer can be more effectively treated. For cancer patients, treatment must not be delayed, and we encourage cancer patients to insist that their cancer treatment schedule is maintained. The campaign further reaffirms E.C.O’s mission to support healthcare professionals in their commitment to deliver optimal care for the benefit of patients.

Prof Mark Lawler, DATA-CAN’s Scientific Lead and Co-Chair, Special Network on Impact of COVID-19 on Cancer, sends a message in support of the Time To Act campaign