Prince Charles issues stark cancer warning as Covid takes ’devastating toll’ on hospitals

Prince Charles sends Christmas message to Whitely Homes Trust

The Prince of Wales is a patron of Macmillan Cancer Support which provides health care, information and financial support to those affected by cancer. He highlighted how the pandemic has taken a “devastating toll” on cancer services.

The prince warned that cancelling certain cancer operations was causing “despair” among patients with the disease.

Last month millions of people missed out on potentially life-saving scans when non-coronavirus services in the NHS ground to an almost halt during the pandemic.

In England, about 4.4million fewer scans were performed between April and September 2020 compared to the same period in 2019 according to reports.

Experts have warned this could create a backlog that may cause more people to visit hospitals with worsened cancer conditions.

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Jody Moffatt, head of early diagnosis for Cancer Research UK, told BBC: “Those patients could be diagnosed with a more aggressive, later-stage cancer.

“There is a cohort of patients out there that have not been diagnosed yet – and who knows what state they will be in when they are.”

The Prince of Wales reiterated the concerns over cancer being side-lined during the pandemic.

He told the Daily Telegraph: “In many cases, due to the pandemic, difficulties have become crises, a sense of isolation has become actual separation, and – as vital treatment or surgery has in some cases been postponed – anxiety has become despair.

“Macmillan has been adapting to this ever-evolving situation to ensure that cancer does not become ‘the Forgotten C’ during the pandemic but, even so, Covid-19 has still taken a devastating toll, with the charity losing a third of its fundraised income.”

Up to 50,000 people could be living with undiagnosed cancer due to delayed services in the NHS, according to Macmillan.

The charity warned that unless the vital cancer services are protected, the amount of people undiagnosed could double to 100,000 next year.

Prince Charles explained that receiving a cancer diagnosis and going through treatment could be a frightening experience for patients, even during non-coronavirus times.

He urged the nation to think of those affected by cancer in the New Year.

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He added how their “own momentous, personal struggles” have been made all the heavier by the pandemic.

Cancer services have been reduced during the pandemic because the NHS has been overwhelmed by the coronavirus.

On Friday, official figures showed the UK recorded 53,285 new COVID-19 cases and 613 further deaths related to the virus.

According to the Health Service Journal, internal NHS data suggested that waiting lists for cancer patients has almost doubled over the past seven months.

Macmillan has predicted there will be a loss of £175million over the next three years due to fundraising events being cancelled.

Prince Charles praised the nation for their “formidable will” during the “darkness”.

He said: “These are truly daunting circumstances.

“However, a charity set up to tackle cancer is not easily daunted and, as we have seen throughout this last year, right across our country the formidable will and compassion of the British people have outshone every darkness.”

He added: “Compassion, we have learned, has not become fatigued; it has strengthened with use.

“Sacrifice has become second nature. Giving has become not an act, but an attitude.”

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