Health

‘We can beat virus but risk losing fight against cancer, surgeon says



A surgeon today warned that the NHS could “win the battle with Covid but lose the war with cancer big-time”.

Ben Challacombe, a consultant urological surgeon at Guy’s and St Thomas NHS trust, called for a campaign to encourage people with cancer symptoms to get checked. The number of people waiting more than 18 weeks for all forms of hospital treatment is at record levels of more than two million.

About 11,000 fewer Londoners a month are being referred by their GP for cancer checks, and the number starting life-saving or extending treatment for cancer is 27 per cent below normal levels.


Mr Challacombe said symptoms such as blood in the urine, a change in bowel habit, weight loss and pain or swelling all merited investigation.

He said some young men who had not gone for checks for testicular cancer had later been told the disease had spread. “My worry is that that will come through in the other cancers — kidney and bladder,” he told a Royal Society of Medicine webinar.

“If you have symptoms, come in — we have not got a problem with diagnostics. This may be a higher risk than Covid, even though we are going into a second pandemic. We could win the battle with Covid but lose the war with cancer big-time.”

“Covid-light” or “Covid-free” sites have been established, in some cases at private hospitals. Anyone who tests positive on the day of admission is sent home and surgery is postponed.

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