Thousands could be living with undiagnosed cancer in Scotland, charity warns


A leading charity in Scotland is calling for urgent action to halt the growing backlog of cancer treatment. 

Macmillan is warning that thousands of people across the country could be living with undiagnosed or untreated cancers because of disruption caused by Covid-19 pandemic.

Analysis of the Scottish cancer waiting times data suggests there are around 2,250 people in Scotland who should have started treatment for cancer between April and September, who didn’t.

They also estimate as many as 4,300 people in Scotland are living with an undiagnosed cancer and says tackling the backlog of patients caused by cancelled appointments could take up to 18-months. 

2,250

Scots who should've started treatment for cancer during lockdown who didn’t.

4,300

People in Scotland are living with an undiagnosed cancer.

The charity is calling on the Scottish Health Secretary to prevent the cancer backlog from increasing further, by committing to ring-fencing cancer services.Head of policy in Scotland, Kate Seymour, said: “It’s extremely worrying that there are so many people missing from the cancer care system.

“Delays in diagnoses can lead to unnecessary deaths, as well as people facing more serious treatments that leave them with long term health issues.

 “While cancer treatment continued in many cases, there was also considerable disruption to some treatment and blanket cancellation of screening.

 “Seven months on from the beginning of the pandemic, people with cancer must be assured that lessons have been learned and cancer services won’t face this kind of disruption again.

 “It’s also vital that anyone who has any symptoms of cancer contacts their GP as soon as possible. Don’t put off an appointment that could save your life.”

The Scottish Government will soon publish a post-Covid recovery - and Macmillan hope cancer treatment will be protected.