C: Pxhere.com

Top oncologist: World needs to focus on finding missed cancers

A leading oncologist has warned that societies urgently need to focus on finding cancers that were missed while the world was preoccupied with Covid-19.

Professor Karol Sikora, who has been an oncologist for 50 years and was formerly the head of the WHO’s cancer program, made the comments this week on Twitter.

“If we catch cancer at an early stage, it’s roughly a 90% survival rate,” he said.

“For later stages, that drops to around 10%.

“It won’t spread overnight, but in weeks and months it will. We need to refocus public health messaging on finding the tens of thousands of ‘missing’ patients.”

Sikora also estimated that in the UK there could be more than 50,000 missing cancer patients.

“I regularly speak with oncologists from our Rutherford network and beyond – we’ve all seen the horrific damage from the cancer crisis first-hand.

“It’s hard to comprehend the scale of it. 50,000 ‘missing’ patients, probably more. Finding these people is an urgent priority.”

In Northern Ireland this month it was found that all cancer waiting time targets were missed by health services.

Due to government-imposed Covid-19 restrictions, BreastCheck screening was paused for months between 2020 and 2021 to “protect participants and staff by complying with social distancing guidelines”. This caused many appointments to be delayed by up to a year.

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