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Alarming figures revealed by Macmillan Cancer Support have revealed that up to 50,000 people in the UK are living with cancer that remains undiagnosed due to disruption caused by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.
Delayed diagnosis can have severe impacts on patient outcomes including increased need for invasive treatment and longer hospital stays.
As the pandemic continues throughout the winter months, the charity has warned that the figure could easily double to 100,000 people by this time next year if cancer services remain limited. This is due to the number of cancelled or delayed services such as check-ups, screenings and hospital referrals, all of which can have a negative impact on patient outcomes. It is unknown as to how many patients may be eligible for a delayed diagnosis claim as a result.
These findings also follow a report published by the BMJ that investigated the indirect impact that Coronavirus has had on those suffering from cancer. It found that for seven types of cancer (bladder, breast, colon, rectum, lung, cervix and head and neck) delays of only 4 weeks resulted in a higher number of deaths. It is not possible to determine the exact number of additional deaths however the BMJ states that a 12-week surgery delay for breast cancer patients over a year of lockdown and backlog could result in over 1,400 additional deaths. This does not include any deaths that may have arose from areas such as radiotherapy delays etc. This sobering information may have wide reaching consequences and result in an increase in delayed diagnosis compensation sought by the families of those of have suffered as a result.
Whilst delayed diagnosis claims may seem like a minor issue in the grand scheme of things at the current time, the studies highlight the importance for plans to be put into place to not only treat those suffering from coronavirus but also to minimise the negative impact on patients requiring on-going treatment for cancer and to detect those patients who need a cancer diagnosis. It remains unclear how there can be the balance between prioritising those with coronavirus whilst still providing lifesaving treatment to those with cancer and other conditions.
A specialist medical negligence solicitor can help to navigate the bureaucracy involved in dealing with making a claim against a medical organisation. If you believe you have suffered from a delay in diagnosis or treatment, call us now to receive free initial advice on your claim.