The analysis forms part of a new report entitled “The Forgotten C?”, which says the backlog has been caused by thousands of people not going to visit their GPs as well as disruption to vital appointments, surgeries, and treatments during the first wave of the pandemic.

Two days before lockdown, the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence issued guidance instructing doctors to inform cancer patients of the risks of attending hospital for treatment due to Covid-19.

Lynda Thomas, the chief executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, said: “Cancer care is at a crossroads and services cannot be shut down this winter.

“Because of the pandemic, we estimate that an additional 50,000 people are missing a cancer diagnosis and others are having their appointments disrupted once again.

“It is simply unacceptable if they face unbearable and unprecedented delays which could affect their chances of survival. Cancer doesn’t stop for Covid-19, and neither can our health services.

“Governments need to promise every person with cancer that they won’t be forgotten, and ensure cancer services are protected come what may.”

An NHS spokesman said: “These assumptions are flawed because, thanks to the hard work of NHS staff, cancer treatments are actually back to pre-pandemic levels.

“The majority of people who have not been diagnosed are people who have not come forward for checks and so our message is clear – if you have worrying symptoms, you must get this checked. The NHS is ready and able to treat you.”

 

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