Cancer diagnosis rates were severely impacted by Covid in 2021, new data shows – – Our News, Your Views

Cancer diagnosis rates were severely impacted by Covid in 2021, new data shows

Healthcare disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic continued to negatively impact cancer diagnoses in 2021, according to data released by the National Cancer Registry.

Preliminary data show that the number of cancer diagnoses in 2021 was 6% lower than forecast.

The latest information, funded by the Irish Cancer Society, shows that the number of cancer cases has fallen by 1,665 in 2021.

Pancreatic and kidney cancers appear to be most affected by the disruption caused by Covid-19.

However, cases of colorectal, breast and cervical cancer – which were hit the hardest in 2020 – have returned to the expected number of cases in 2021.

The Director of Advocacy at the Irish Cancer Society Rachel Morrough, said today’s figures underscore the need to significantly reduce waiting times for cancer tests and increase service delivery capacity.

“The Irish Cancer Society is dismayed that our fears of there being a second year of fewer cancers being diagnosed have been confirmed. Cancer never went away during the pandemic but remained undetected due to a range of reasons including putting off seeking medical advice, disruption to health services and possibly death from Covid,” she said.

Speaking on RTÉ’s Drivetime programme, Ms Morrough said the pandemic had changed people’s health behavior overnight, with the charity’s 2021 research showing people not seeking medical advice for “various reasons”.

Early intervention is “absolutely critical,” she added, reports RTE.

Professor Deirdre Murray, Director of the National Cancer Registry, says it may be 10 years before the full impact of the pandemic on cancer diagnosis can be seen.

“The reality is that it takes five years to calculate the impact on survival. And some cancers, such as breast cancer, which have good outcomes at five years, it may be up to 10 years before we see the impact,” she said, reports RTE.

Professor Murray urged anyone with suspicious symptoms to contact their GP.

She said the earlier the cancer is detected, the better.

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