According to a report, asking people to stay at home with a cough during the pandemic has led to a very late diagnosis of lung cancer.
The UK Lung Cancer Coalition (UKLCC) said improvements in survival that were occurring prior to COVID-19 are now “at risk”, unless immediate action is taken.
It estimates that delays in diagnosis due to the COVID-19 lockdown and restrictions could result in a decline of up to 5.3% in five-year survival in England.
It said the proportion of people who lived at least five years to those diagnosed during the pandemic could drop from 17.6% (for patients diagnosed from 2014 to 2018) to about 12.3%.
Government guidance to stay at home with cough, reluctance to engage with health services during the lockdown, and pressure on already overburdened health services inevitably results in a drop in referrals.
The coalition warned it could lead to more than 2,500 more deaths in Britain.
Professor Robert Rintoul, chair of the UKLCC’s clinical advisory group, said: “Before the pandemic, real progress was being made in increasing the five-year survival rate.
“But COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on early diagnosis of lung cancer and has compromised our goal of increasing UK five-year survival by 25% by 2025.
“Lung cancer patients have been completely affected by the pandemic.
“Government guidance to stay at home with cough, reluctance to engage with health services during the lockdown, and pressure on already overburdened health services will inevitably lead to a drop in referrals and an increase in late presentations of the disease. has resulted.
“We need to take immediate action to get back on track.”
UKLCC reports calling for twice-yearly national and regional public awareness campaigns involving a national screening program across the UK as well as a dedicated lung cancer helpline.
Lung cancer is the most common cause of death in the UK, causing around 35,100 deaths each year.
About 80% of lung cancer deaths are due to smoking, while many others are caused by exposure to secondhand smoke.
However, around 10 to 15% of lung cancers in the UK occur in people who have never smoked.