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Decline In Cancer Referrals During Covid-19 Leaves Patients At Greater Risk

Amidst the coronavirus pandemic, new concerns are growing regarding the sharp decline of skin cancer checks. Reports indicate that people are failing to present to their doctors with cancer concerns and worries, with some GP’s not seeing a suspected cancer case in weeks.

New figures from the HSE reveal that the number of suspected cancer referral cases has dropped by over 50%, including e-referrals of suspected pigmented skin lesions, which alone have dropped by 72.3%.

As such, there are fears that skin cancer will go undiagnosed and untreated as people seem to neglect their own health due to fears surrounding the pandemic. However, the danger of cancer going undetected could lead to a more life-threatening diagnosis than covid itself. Health Minister Simon Harris, urged people to take control of their health and addressed their fears of being an inconvenience to health workers during this time as he states, “Please come forward, don’t feel that you are a burden”.

Early detection is key to determining the success of your treatment, and it can mean the difference between life or death in some cases. This is why it’s vital to immediately contact your GP if you notice any potential cancer symptoms such as a lump, bleeding, weight loss or fatigue.

CEO of Irish Cancer Society, Averil Power reinstated the Health Ministers earlier sentiment as she explained, “Now these figures highlight the extent of the problem and the risk of lives being lost due to late cancer diagnosis during COVID-19”, “Despite COVID-19 we have been assured that GPs are there for anyone who needs them and urgent cancer services are continuing to operate. Safeguards are also in place to ensure care can be provided safely”.

“Cancer will not wait for the coronavirus pandemic to pass and it is so important that anyone who needs medical attention seeks it,” she concluded.

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