20% rise in cancer deaths expected in England due to COVID-19

Analysis by University College London estimates an increase of 20 percent in cancer deaths in England due to the effects of the coronavirus emergency. Compared to the usual expected death toll over the next 12 months this would amount to 18 thousand additional deaths.

Professor Harry Hemingway, UCL Institute of Health Informatics Director, explained: “There are many factors operating here including rapid changes to diagnosis and treatment protocols, social distancing measures, changes in people’s behaviour in seeking medical attention and the economic impact of Covid-19, as well as deaths due to Covid-19 infection.”

The research also revealed concrete indicators of the projected increase in mortality. These include an alarming 76 percent decrease in urgent referrals from GPs for people with suspected cancers and a 60 percent decrease in chemotherapy appointments when compared to pre-Covid-19 levels.

In response to the research, Professor Mark Lawler, Queen’s University Belfast and Scientific Lead DATA-CAN, urged: “Countries need to rapidly understand how the emergency is affecting cancer outcomes, otherwise we risk adding cancer and other underlying health conditions to the escalating death toll of the Covid-19 pandemic.”