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Cancer survival chances 'could dip due to Covid'


Stock Image/Getty Images

Stock Image/Getty Images

Stock Image/Getty Images

Cancer diagnoses that were delayed due to the disruption to health services during the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to lead to "smaller chances of survival" for patients.

The Irish Cancer Society's warning comes in a submission to the Dáil's Special Committee on Covid-19 Response.

Officials from the National Treatment Purchase Fund (NTPF), who are also to appear before TDs, will outline how more than 50,000 people have been added to hospital waiting lists as a result of the crisis.

Cancer screening services were suspended and fewer people attended GP practices during the coronavirus lockdown.

The Irish Cancer Society document said the pandemic had had a "damaging impact on cancer patients".

There have been 212 Covid-­related deaths among people being treated for cancer.

"Urgent action is needed to prevent excess secondary cancer deaths as a result of restrictions," it said.

Data from other countries suggest far fewer people could survive cancer and many more could die from it, with deaths from cancer "dwarfing" the numbers who pass away from Covid-19. The submission said the society "does not believe that this is inevitable". It called on the State to redouble efforts to improve patient care, quality of life and survival.

The campaign group also warned: "It is likely that there will be a secondary effect of Covid-19 in which people who have experienced delays in getting a diagnosis for cancer will experience poorer outcomes and smaller chances of survival compared to cancers caught at an earlier stage."

The organisation has called for "increased investment in services to better cope with the backlog of screening, diagnostic services and the future treatment needs of those who may be diagnosed later without appropriate intervention".

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The NTPF will outline progress made in cutting hospital waiting lists but will say how Covid-19 has had an "immediate and significant impact".

In March, non-critical elective care was postponed. It restarted in May but "in a much-changed environment with inevitable limitations".

The NTPF said the number waiting for an appointment for surgery and procedures rose by 17,518 (26pc).

The numbers waiting for outpatient consultations increased by 25,845 (5pc) and the number waiting for gastro-intestinal scopes grew by 13,173 (58pc), said the NTPF.

Visit our Covid-19 vaccine dashboard for updates on the roll out of the vaccination program and the rate of Coronavirus cases Ireland

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