Action call over fall in cancer diagnosis figures

More than 200 fewer cancers were diagnosed in Sunderland during the first year of the pandemic, according to new figures.

Action call over cancer figures.
Action call over cancer figures.

NHS Digital data also shows that 2020 saw a fall in the proportion of cancers found at an early stage.

The figures show 1,711 cancers were diagnosed in the area – 212 fewer than the 1,923 the year before – and the proportion found at an early stage also fell to 50.5%, down from 51.3% in 2019.

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Lung cancer was the most common, accounting for 15.8% of diagnoses, followed by breast (11.7%) and prostate (10.2%) cancer.

In England, some 40,400 fewer cancers were diagnosed in 2020, while the early diagnosis rate also tumbled to 51.9%, from 54.5% in 2019.

Jon Shelton, Cancer Research UK’s head of cancer intelligence, said a "crisis” in cancer care had been accelerated by the pandemic rather than caused by it.

He said: “We have been sounding the alarm on the importance of early diagnosis for years.

"Right now, the Government is falling short of its manifesto promise of improving cancer outcomes and significantly improving early diagnosed.”

He added: "We need a comprehensive and fully funded 10-year plan which transforms our cancer services from world-lagging to world-leading."

A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care did not respond to the cancer diagnosis figures, but said the department is "laser focused" on tackling cancer waiting lists across England, adding that 160 community diagnostic centres are being rolled out.

"These have already delivered over 2.7 million life-saving tests, checks and scans," they added.