19 January 2021

New evidence from Ireland shows significant fall

Evidence from Ireland suggests that diagnosis of prostate cancer has been harder hit than other cancers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A new study from the National Cancer Control Programme, Royal College of Physicians of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Cancer Registry shows that there were significant falls in referrals, attendances and diagnoses for breast, lung and breast cancers at rapid access clinics in March, April and May 2020. Numbers were down by 23% compared to the same period in 2019.

In the month of April alone, just 243 cancers were diagnosed across the breast, lung, and prostate clinics – half the number diagnosed in the previous year.

Rapid access clinics to detect prostate cancer were hardest hit, with just 17 men diagnosed in April compared to 104 men in the previous year and diagnoses down 33% between January and August compared to the previous year.

“I’m pretty sure that the same thing is happening elsewhere in Europe,” says John Dowling, Europa Uomo’s Vice-Chairman, who is from Ireland. “It’s part of a more general scenario of patients not going to out-patients and emergency departments.”

“Rapid access clinics for prostate cancer have been a big gain in Ireland over the past decade, so it’s very disappointing that this is now happening.”