Over 450 cancers and 1,600 pre-cancers have been missed because screening programmes have been put on hold, it was claimed today.
The Irish Cancer Society said the pandemic is having a major impact on cancer care and urgent action is needed to ensure that cancer does not become the ‘forgotten C’ during coronavirus.
The cancer organisation will outline concerns at the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.
It said the Government should urgently tackle waiting lists for cancer services made worse by the recent lockdown.
And it needs to get screening services back up and running to the highest level possible.
Among other recommendations are the construction of temporary clinical buildings to help deal with the capacity issues being experienced in hospitals, along with further investment in wards, operating theatres and community diagnostics.
Irish Cancer Society Director of Advocacy & External Affairs Rachel Morrogh said: “It will take years to fully realise the impact of Covid on cancer outcomes, but we do know thousands aren’t being screened, waiting lists are growing rapidly and there’s still little clarity as to how this will be addressed.
“While we are pleased that screening services are resuming, in the meantime pausing invitations for screening will have resulted in approximately 450 cancers and 1,600 pre-cancers going undetected since March.
“Unless typical patterns of cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment return there is a serious risk that delays and backlogs could lead to avoidable deaths.
“The time to make these decisions and avoid these dire predictions from becoming a reality is now. We cannot allow cancer care to become the ‘forgotten C’,” she added.