Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation has accelerated its plans for lung cancer awareness month after it has been estimated up to 1372 more people will die from lung cancer due to the pandemic.
There has been a lot to celebrate in the world of lung cancer in recent years. The UK is now spending more on lung cancer research than ever before, a figure finally proportionate to the number of people affected.
More life-lengthening treatments are being approved for people with late stage lung cancer.
We saw historical surgeries, including an entire lung removed through keyhole surgery and funded world first research projects.
And, most recently, NHS England began to implement the rollout of lung health check pilot programmes, taking us a step closer to a national lung cancer screening programme.
This has all contributed to an increase in lung cancer survival rates, most notably 10-year survival which has now doubled.
Then Covid hit and lung cancer was cast back into the shadows.
Inside we all stayed, so long we’re afraid.
Any niggles or aches, we chose to downgrade...
During the peak of the pandemic, cancer referrals declines up to 84%. People followed the Government’s “stay at home” messages and avoided visiting their doctor, even if they felt unwell.
The fear of exposure and the worry of burdening the overstretched NHS outweighed the need for medial attention. The recent NHS Help Us Help You campaign found nearly half of the public had concerns about seeking help in the midst of the outbreak, while one in 10 said they would not contact their GP even if they had a lump or a new mole.
And now we’re in a worrying state.
For this disease is not one to wait...
It is now estimated that there will be up to 1372 additional deaths from lung cancer due to the pandemic. These are people whose lives could have been saved or, at the very least, had more time with their loved ones.
And whilst we are now seeing cancer referral rates bounce back, only 59% expected lung cancer referrals are currently being made.
Add this to the 53% decline in A&E admissions during the peak of the pandemic – around a third of lung cancer cases are diagnosed via emergency presentation – as well as the reduction of routine monitoring and x-ray for surgery which, again, account for a significant proportion of diagnoses and thousands of lives are potentially at risk.
But under a shadow it can no longer stay.
Already too many lives it has taken away...
Paula Chadwick is the chief executive of Roy Castle Lung Cancer Foundation:
“Given the gravity of the situation, and to prevent further lives from being lost, we are accelerating and extending our activity for lung cancer awareness month campaign and today launch our Still Here campaign.
From now until the end of November (officially lung cancer awareness month), the Still Here campaign will shine the spotlight back on lung cancer.
We will re-build awareness about signs and symptoms of lung cancer. A cough, after all, does not just mean covid. We will reassure those at risk and with symptoms that it is safe and appropriate to seek medical help – even if you live in an area that is in local lockdown. We will show people there is life after a lung cancer diagnosis.
Lung cancer is still here. The NHS is still here. We are still here and we will do everything we can to ensure you are too.”