How has COVID-19 affected the diagnosis of cancer?

Bottom Line:

This study found that due to the COVID-19 pandemic, there would be an increase in the number of avoidable deaths due to breast, esophageal, lung, and colorectal cancer.


Maringe, C. et al. The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer deaths due to delays in diagnosis in England, UK: a national, population-based, modelling study. The Lancet (2020).

Date Published:

19 July 2020


This study looked at data for over 90,000 cancer patients to compare the number of deaths and delays in cancer diagnosis before and during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Due to the outbreak, there have been changes in the delivery of treatment and dosing schedules. This study sought to understand, however, how the pandemic has delayed the diagnosis of cancer in England. It was estimated that there would be a decrease in survival of breast, esophageal, lung, and colorectal cancer, in various scenarios. Overall, across these four cancer types, it was estimated that there would be 3,291 to 3,621 avoidable deaths. Additionally, 59,204 to 63,229 total years of life lost as a result of delayed cancer diagnosis from the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK. Ultimately, there is a significant need for changes in policy, as well as increased educational initiatives, to help overcome challenges in cancer diagnosis.

Summary by: Max Solish