Covid: Hundreds in South London could have untreated cancer due to backlog

Hundreds of people in South West London could be going without cancer treatment due to a diagnosis backlog caused by the pandemic.

The latest figures show people starting treatment for prostate, bladder, breast and lung cancer are lower than previous years.

Across the Croydon, Sutton, Merton, Wandsworth, Kingston and Richmond areas, 526 people started treatment for prostate and bladder cancer in 2020-21, compared to 739 in the previous year.

This means that around 200 people could have an undiagnosed prostate or bladder cancer.

The largest difference was seen in Croydon where the number of people starting treatment had fallen by 90.

Breast cancer diagnoses were also down by a third in 2020-21, compared to the year before.

Dr Navdeep Alg from South West London CCG presented the data to a Merton Council meeting on Wednesday night (October 6).

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He said: “ Covid has had a disastrous effect on breast cancer screening services, both from a delivery point of view but also because patients have been more reluctant to go out and have screening done.

“The combination has led to quite a big backlog in the diagnosis of breast cancer.”

Councillor Agatha Akyigyina said she was “amazed” that people with cancer have been overlooked during the pandemic.

She said: “I know a few people who were diagnosed just before the pandemic at stage one but now they are at stage four because they were left and not sorted out.

“We are talking as if we are now catching up but people are dying. I can’t fathom how we managed not to look after anybody but those with Covid.

“To me this is catching up but for some it will be too late, what are we going to say to people? I’m sorry we couldn’t look after you. People died and people are dying from cancer, I find it very sad.”

If you live in London and have not been able to see your GP or received delayed treatment, please contact us: [email protected]

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