TWO young women have died of cancer after missing out on proper care during the pandemic – while MPs warn that Britain is on the brink of a “cancer disaster.”
Latifah King, 27, and Kelly Smith, 31, both tragically died of cancer after delays in treatment due to Covid lockdowns.
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Young mum Kelly had her chemotherapy for bowel cancer paused for three months during the first lockdown because of the strain the NHS was under due to the virus.
The beautician and mum of six-year-old, Finn, was midway through her treatment when the pandemic hit – and her step-father Craig Russell, said last year that her life had been “traded” for those of Covid patients.
Latifah King was at first told she had sciatica, and was not able to see a doctor in person or offered any tests.
Sciatica is where the sciatic nerve, which runs from the lower back to the feet, is irritated or compressed.
But after suffering “unbearable” pain and seeing visible lumps, she was admitted to hospital – and was then diagnosed with an aggressive form of soft tissue cancer.
She died a week after her diagnosis.
Speaking to Daily Mail, the 27-year-old’s twin sister said she believed Ms King was “brushed” to the side because “the only killer they see right now is Covid.”
She added: “If it wasn’t a pandemic I believe more would have been done. Covid means other illnesses are getting pushed aside.”
Their deaths are just a snapshot of the tragic reality of a strained health service during a global pandemic – with MPs now warning that Britain is facing a “cancer disaster.”
A group of 75 cross-party politicians say that as many as 100,000 people could miss out on cancer treatment due to the impact of the coronavirus pandemic – with many dying unnecessarily.
The PMs have written to Boris Johnson, demanding that the cancer treatment backlog is “tackled with the same political will as the vaccination rollout.”
The coalition of MPs also warned that “cancer lives are already being lost and we may lose as many as 35,000 patients and 60,000 life years to cancer as a result of the cancer backlog.”
They said the spring Budget, unveiled by the Chancellor on March 3, would be the “ideal opportunity” for a new revitalised cancer recovery plan.
The MPs say 50,000 patients are thought to be living with undiagnosed cancer due to disruption caused by Covid.
WHAT IS LUNG CANCER AND WHAT ARE THE MAIN SYMPTOMS?
Lung cancer involves the uncontrolled growth of abnormal cells that start off in one or both lungs – usually in the cells that line the air passages.
Instead of developing into healthy lung tissue, these cells divide rapidly and form tumours.
As these tumours grow and spread, they weaken the lung’s ability to provide the bloodstream with oxygen.
However, not all tumours are created equal.
Tumours that remain in one place and don’t appear to spread are known as “benign tumours”.
What are the symptoms?
While suffering with a lingering cough, feeling tired and losing your appetite could be mistaken for a virus or common cold, it may be the sign of something more serious and is worth getting check out.
Other symptoms of lung cancer can include:
- Having a cough most of the time
- A change in a cough you have had for a long time
- Being short of breath
- Coughing up phlegm which has signs of blood
- Aches or pains in the chest or shoulder
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
In their letter, they wrote: “This figure could rise as high as 100,000 by the time we emerge from the pandemic.
“The question is not whether we should save Covid patients or cancer patients… we can and should be able to save both.”
One of the symptoms of Covid-19 is a new persistent cough – but experts have warned that it is also a sign of the UK’s deadliest cancer.
New research from the NHS and Public Health England (PHE) has revealed that almost half of people do not know that a persistent cough for more than three weeks can be a lung cancer symptom.
It also found that 61 per of people would not make an appointment with their GP if they had a cough that lasted for three weeks or more – even if they had tested negative for Covid-19.
The NHS is now urging people with cancer symptoms to come forward after over 30 per cent of people surveyed said they didn’t want to make an appointment as they felt as though they were burdening the NHS.
Celebrities have now joined forces with the NHS to highlight how important it is to visit your GP if you have any abnormal symptoms.
The NHS states that each year, more than 39,000 people are diagnosed with lung cancer in the UK.
If you catch the disease earlier then survival rates are higher.
Michelle Mitchell, Cancer Research UK’s chief executive, said: “The Government must urgently make sure the NHS gets the funding it needs.
“This Spring Budget could be that moment to help give every person with cancer the timely diagnosis and treatment they deserve.”
A Government spokesman said: “Every death is a tragedy and our sympathies go out to everyone who has lost a loved one to cancer.
“Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top priority throughout the pandemic.
“An extra £1billion will be used to boost diagnosis and treatment in the year ahead.”