11 October 2021

The CovidSurg Collaborative, made up of almost 5,000 surgeons and anaesthetists from around the world, analysed data from 20,000 cancer patients across 466 hospitals in 61 countries.

Their findings revealed that one in seven cancer patients missed out on potentially life-saving operations during COVID-19 lockdowns.

This is one of the first studies to directly measure the knock on effects of lockdown on non-Covid conditions. The findings confirm that, while lockdowns were necessary measures and saved lives at the height of the pandemic, the collateral impact on people with bowel cancer and other forms of the disease requires urgent action to mitigate.

In bowel cancer early intervention is crucial, so it is vitally important patients feel safe and confident to have their surgery. We are proud to have contributed to funding CovidSurg, alongside a number of fellow charities and the NIHR, to help understand the impact of cancelled surgeries on patients.

Not only that, volunteers from our Take Part initiative, which promotes patient involvement in research, worked closely with the team to produce guides for people having surgery in lockdown. The resources they created are freely available, and have been distributed to NHS patients up and down the country.

The booklets provide information for patients with worrying symptoms, a cancer diagnosis or recent surgery for cancer, and helped patients and their families understand the risks of having an operation during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Now, CovidSurg researchers are calling for major global reorganisation during the recovery from the pandemic to provide protected elective surgical pathways and critical care beds that will allow surgery to continue safely, as well as investment in ‘surge’ capacity for future public health emergencies.

We know that further research is crucial to providing the evidence to make these changes happen, and addressing the severe backlogs in bowel cancer care and treatment. We are especially proud of the role played by our patient representatives, whose input is helping to shape the recovery and make sure people with bowel, and other cancers, get the care they need.

Read the full press release about the publication here.