NHS England figures also show that a total of 179,503 urgent cancer referrals were made by GPs in England in July 2020, down from 221,805 in July 2019 – a fall of 19 per cent.

This compares with a year-on-year drop of 21 per cent in June and 47 per cent in May. 

Urgent breast cancer referrals were down from 15,824 in July 2019 to 10,441 in July 2020 – a fall of 34 per cent.

Sara Bainbridge, Head of Policy at Macmillan Cancer Support, said the figures add up to a “worrying backlog”.

“Behind each statistic is a real person whose prognosis and treatment options could be severely impacted by disruption during Covid-19,” she said. 

“It’s vital that people see their GP if they have symptoms, and anyone who is worried about cancer needs to know that they’ll be seen promptly and safely.”

Commenting on the figures, Professor Stephen Powis, NHS medical director, said emergency hospital admissions are approaching usual levels.

“Pleasingly, cancer radiotherapy treatments are now fully back to their pre-Covid levels, and we’re seeing a substantial rebound in routine appointments and operations, which have more than doubled since the peak of Covid,” he added.

“The success of these service expansions depends on keeping Covid under control, so continued public action on hands-face-space, an effective Test and Trace service, and rapid action to control local outbreaks all continue to be vital.”

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