- Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK
- 65% of prostate cancer patients in the UK believe cancer care is still a priority, but it has been compromised by the pandemic
- The pandemic has had an impact on the quality of life of prostate cancer patients, affecting out-of-home independence and mental health.
65% of prostate cancer patients in the UK believe that despite cancer care remaining a priority, it has been compromised by the Covid-19 pandemic, according to new results from the charity Prostate Cancer Research. Prostate cancer is now the most commonly diagnosed cancer in the UK and Covid-19 meant that for many cancer patients, care was delayed, cancelled or re-evaluated.
Of those diagnosed with prostate cancer during the pandemic, 41% had their first consultation via phone or video call compared to just 5% of people diagnosed before March 2020. Experiences of remote consultations varied, with some preferring remote appointments, but many others expressing frustrations, such as feeling more inhibited from asking questions and concerned that something important might be missed.
The pandemic has had a knock-on impact on out-of-home independence for people affected by prostate cancer and the side effects of its treatment. In addition to concerns of becoming seriously ill with the virus, 31% of patients went out less as reduced access to facilities such as public toilets made it harder to cope with side effects such as incontinence in public spaces. Additionally, 39% felt Covid-19 made dealing with cancer’s mental health burden more difficult, with loneliness, being unable to see friends and family and difficulty in accessing support during lockdown flagged as major factors.
However, the majority patients felt that NHS had done well in terms of putting COVID safety measures in place, with 95% of patients diagnosed or treated reporting that they saw the measures which had been put in place and felt safe.
The results from PCR follow the release of official figures which suggest early cancer diagnoses fell by a third in the first three months of the pandemic. This has led to worry that many people will instead receive their diagnosis at a later stage, when the cancer has become more difficult to treat. The pandemic has had a devastating effect on medical research, with the Association of Medical Research Charities calculating that £270m research funding has been cut since the pandemic started.