Irish Cancer Society: Over 450 cancers not detected during screening pause

Further 1,600 pre-cancers also go undetected due to stoppage

Over 450 cancers and 1,600 pre-cancers have so far gone undetected during the pause in screenings, the Irish Cancer Society has said.

The current 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, it will tell a meeting of the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response today.

The Society is calling for the Government to urgently address waiting lists for cancer services made worse by the recent lockdown, as well as getting 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 concluded.

Irish Cancer Society submission to Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response
Read the submission here
Contact the Irish Cancer Society Support Line

The Irish Cancer Society continues to be available to provide support and information on this matter or any other queries related to cancer through its Freephone Support Line on 1800 200 700.