June 16, 2020 5.26 pm This story is over 48 months old

Lincoln cancer doctor warns of ‘ticking time bomb’ of undiagnosed symptoms

A big drop in cancer referrals

A Lincoln-based cancer doctor is concerned by the drop in people visiting their GP with cancer symptoms.

Dr Stella Lowry, who is a Lincoln based Macmillan cancer GP covering the whole of Lincolnshire, told BBC Radio Lincolnshire she believes it is creating a “ticking time bomb” of undiagnosed symptoms in the county.

Dr Lowry, who also works at Abbey View Surgery in Crowland, said there’s been a “big drop” in the number of cancer referrals, which she believes may be linked to the coronavirus pandemic.

The doctor estimates “hundreds” of people may have put off visiting their GP during the pandemic and is worried that if people delay getting symptoms checked it could cause a backlog or prolong diagnosis.

She said: “Within Lincolnshire we know it’s in the order of some hundreds and that’s creating a big ticking time bomb which needs to be properly investigated and treated if necessary.”

Around 200 people in Lincolnshire who need cancer treatment still don’t know when they will be able to be seen by doctors because hospitals are in lockdown due to coronavirus.

Figures earlier this month also showed that there are over 12,000 people who have been waiting for more than 18 weeks to be seen by specialist doctors after referrals from GPs as planned elective and urgent diagnosis appointments have reduced during lockdown.

Lynda Thomas, Chief Executive at Macmillan Cancer Support, responded to NHS England’s April 2020 cancer waiting times earlier this month, saying: “We’ve been calling for an urgent recovery plan for NHS cancer services since April, to ensure cancer does not become the forgotten ‘C’ throughout this crisis.

“UK governments must now urgently commit to measures to address the backlog, including the allocation of the staffing and resources needed to deliver the safest possible care.”