JANET STREET-PORTER: Save even more lives from cancer than coronavirus kills

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Covid-19 is a plague that affects millions of people. Everyone in the UK knows or knows someone who has died and our lives have changed dramatically in the foreseeable future.

This terrible crisis brought out the best in Britain – as Americans angrily demonstrate their right to be infected because many value making money rather than saving lives – in the UK, an army of volunteers helps isolated and vulnerable people.

Companies have mobilized to offer their expertise in the production of protective clothing and urgently needed fans, while restaurants and pubs offer free food to the needy. Across the UK, communities are coming together to raise funds for “our” NHS.

NHS staff undoubtedly do a fantastic job, and many of them show incredible bravery on the front lines. But others could do much more if only the bureaucrats allowed it.

The dancing NHS nurses' TikTok video may be entertaining, but it won't be as much fun for anyone watching with advanced bowel or breast cancer, which medical experts have decided to temporarily forget in rush to focus. on tackling the horrible death toll of the coronavirus

The dancing NHS nurses’ TikTok video may be entertaining, but it won’t be as much fun for anyone watching with advanced bowel or breast cancer, which medical experts have decided to temporarily forget in rush to focus. on tackling the horrible death toll of the coronavirus

“Our” NHS is in crisis because consecutive governments have burdened it with heavy bureaucracy, while key services have been underfunded with front-line staff.

Politicians from all parties have opposed the introduction of a targeted health care tax – with which most voters agree. An unlucky Minister of Health and an army of scientists are currently making their way through a crisis which, fortunately, seems to be slowing down.

But the fallout from the pandemic will continue for years and will result in thousands of unnecessary deaths, people who have never contracted coronaviruses.

I’m talking about cancer patients. This week, a study published in the European Journal of Cancer, conducted by three distinguished universities in London, Belfast and Split, in Croatia, concludes that we are facing an epidemic of cancer, with more deaths preventable by cancer than by Covid -19.

A study published in the European Journal of Cancer concludes that we are facing more preventable cancer deaths than Covid-19. Pictured: Nic Murray, who has terminal colon cancer whose treatment has been stopped by a coronavirus

A study published in the European Journal of Cancer concludes that we are facing more preventable cancer deaths than Covid-19. Pictured: Nic Murray, who has terminal colon cancer whose treatment has been stopped by a coronavirus

The reason is simple – in a rush to focus on tackling the terrible number of deaths from coronaviruses, British medical experts have decided to temporarily forget the cancer victims, thousands of people who had already started treatments like chemotherapy.

The big wigs of the NHS decided to forget about the patients of the intestine, the breast and the cervix who were waiting for analyzes to see if they had the disease and if so, how far it had progressed, people who had already waited months to be referred to specialists by their general practitioners.

Cancer affects more people in the UK than the coronavirus ever will. According to Cancer Research UK, half of us will be diagnosed with cancer at some point in our lives. Four hundred and fifty people die every day from the disease – 165,000 a year.

If caught early, half of those diagnosed will live for more than ten years, and excellent diagnostic and treatment work has seen survival rates increase. Smart campaigns and extensive NHS testing mean prostate and bowel cancer are no longer an embarrassing secret.

Nightingale's underutilized hospitals could certainly be turned into chemotherapy and screening facilities for cancer patients, and some minor surgeries could take place in sterile areas?

Nightingale’s underutilized hospitals could certainly be turned into chemotherapy and screening facilities for cancer patients, and some minor surgeries could take place in sterile areas?

A thousand new cases of cancer are diagnosed every day – at least in the UK, before the coronavirus diverts our attention and all resources. It’s great NHS clinical director Peter Johnson urging the public to contact our GPs if we feel sick or have worrisome symptoms, but what then? Pop a couple of paracetamol and hope a suspicious new piece shrinks on its own?

There is not a single day that I do not think about cancer and its effects on the people I love. My sister died of lung and brain cancer and one of my closest friends is currently experiencing a rare form of lung cancer and has had several surgeries. Just before the lock, a biopsy confirmed that I had a cancerous tumor on my face. The surgery has been canceled for the foreseeable future, so I am concerned even though I have been told that my condition is not life threatening.

I cannot imagine the horror of breast, gut and lung cancer patients whose treatment has been put on hold. Even after the lockout ends, it may take 6 to 9 months for services to return to normal. Experts say delay in screening for bowel cancer may be a death sentence. So why do we care more about covid-19 than a disease that could affect (and potentially kill) half of us?

Cancer charities say donations have dropped – all we think about is the coronavirus and the fundraiser for the wonderful NHS.

Chief expert, Professor Karl Sikora (former director of the World Health Organization’s cancer control program) says NHS decision to stop testing, delay surgery and postpone chemotherapy will cause far more deaths than coronavirus – in the next few years, as many as 50,000 victims could have had a good chance of living if they had been diagnosed and treated quickly.

According to Professor Sikora, people with cancer are “collateral damage” in the current war against the virus.

Nightingale’s underutilized hospitals could certainly be turned into chemotherapy and screening facilities for cancer patients, and some minor surgeries could take place in sterile areas?

It is scandalous that these facilities remain empty white elephants at a time when cancer patients are worried about whether their lives are in danger. In summary, for many cancer victims, death has come much closer.

Since the NHS has also co-opted many private hospitals and establishments to deal with the virus, why – now that the peak has passed – cannot they be used to resume abandoned cancer treatments?

The dancing NHS nurses’ TikTok video may be entertaining, but it won’t be that much fun for anyone watching with advanced bowel or breast cancer. Cancer victims pay the same taxes as everyone else, so why were they sent to the bottom of the medical queue?

If Boris Johnson and co needs help to get out of his lockout, why not start with the NHS itself? Right now, “our” NHS only serves one type of customer.

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