The COVID-19 pandemic has hindered the early diagnosis and treatment of cancer, and this may have set back cancer outcomes by almost a decade in Europe, according to a report published in The Lancet Oncology.1 

“We estimate that approximately 1 million cancer diagnoses were missed across Europe during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in a race against time to find those missing cancers,” report author Mark Lawler, PhD, of Queen’s University Belfast in the United Kingdom, said in a statement.2

Dr Lawler and colleagues analyzed data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across Europe and found that clinicians saw 1.5 million fewer patients with cancer in the first year of the pandemic.1 


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The data also suggest that, across Europe, 100 million cancer screening tests were missed, and up to 1 million Europeans might have an undiagnosed cancer. 

“Additionally, we saw a chilling effect on cancer research, with laboratories shut down and clinical trials delayed or canceled in the first pandemic wave,” Dr Lawler said in a statement.2 “We are concerned that Europe is heading towards a cancer epidemic in the next decade if cancer health systems and cancer research are not urgently prioritized.”

In addition to highlighting the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, Dr Lawler and colleagues noted that Brexit and the Russian invasion of Ukraine have had detrimental effects on cancer research in Europe.1 

With these factors in mind, the authors made 12 recommendations to “reimagine cancer research and its implementation in Europe.” The recommendations and other key findings from the report are outlined in the infographic below.

Credit: The Lancet

Disclosures: Some report authors declared affiliations with biotech, pharmaceutical, and/or device companies. Please see the original reference for a full list of disclosures.

References

1. Lawler M, Davies L, Oberst S, et al. European Groundshot—addressing Europe’s cancer research challenges: A Lancet Oncology Commission. Lancet Oncol. Published online November 15, 2022. doi:10.1016/S1470-2045(22)00540-X

2. The Lancet Oncology: Experts warn of a European cancer epidemic in the next decade if weaknesses in cancer health systems and cancer research are not urgently addressed. News release. EurekAlert. Published November 15, 2022. Accessed November 15, 2022.