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How many Cancer cases are not yet diagnosed?

  • Published: Tuesday March 22, 2022
  • Category: NHS
  • Tags: coronavirus-covid-19, delay-cancer-diagnosis,

In March I was saddened to learn from BBC news about a lady who had initially ignored symptoms usually associated with lung cancer and instead put them down to Covid.

The BBC reported that a lady from Wales developed a cough in September 2021 and initially put it down to Covid and did not seek help.  When symptoms persisted and she did seek help she was shocked to learn that she was in fact suffering from lung cancer and by the point of diagnosis her condition was terminal.

The article goes on to highlight the need for screening for lung cancer in Wales as a way to make diagnoses early and give sufferers a fighting chance at survival.  This lady’s consultants suggest that screening would save many people.

When I read the article it made me wonder how many people are putting coughs; chesty symptoms and breathlessness down to Covid and long Covid?  How many people are suffering in silence and not asking to be investigated?  How many people are calling out for help but are being told by medical professionals that a recent Covid diagnosis is responsible for their symptoms and not getting the opportunity to have their symptoms investigated?

Early indications from experts that we work with are that there are potentially tens of thousands of patients that have not yet had a cancer diagnosis.  Usually there are a lot more cancer diagnoses made in a year than has been the case in the past 2 years and our experts wonder whether this is because people aren’t coming forward or symptoms aren’t being investigated.  The reasons for this could be putting symptoms down to something else such as Covid; not wanting to bother GPs when people know they are already very overstretched; seeking help and when they are initially dismissed do not go back until they are investigated.

Only time will tell as to how many missed opportunities there have been to diagnose cancer because Covid symptoms masked what was really going on but in the meantime people must remain vigilant and seek help when symptoms could be something sinister.  It is always better to have things checked.

If you or someone you know fears that a diagnosis could or should have been made earlier please get in touch with us and one of our dedicated medical negligence team would be happy to arrange an appointment with you to discuss your concerns.


Lydia Brindley, Legal Director