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Cancer fatalities could rise in UK for first time in decades due to pandemic, charities warn

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The UK’s cancer death rate could rise for the first time in decadesif urgent action to address problems stemming from the pandemic is nottaken, cancer charities have warned.

One Cancer Voice, a group of 47 British cancer charities, hastold BBC Radio 1’s Newsbeat more money and staff are desperately neededto reduce a growing backlog of cancer cases.

It has also asked for the NHS to be given greater access to private facilities.

Michelle Mitchell, the head of Cancer Research UK – which leadsOne Cancer Voice – told Newsbeat: “We are calling on the government toinvest more money in ensuring the backlog of cancer cases is reduced andeliminated.

“We could face, in this country today, the prospect of cancersurvival reducing for the first time in decades. That’s why urgentaction is required by the government.”

Recent figures from NHS England show 171,231 urgent cancerreferrals were made by GPs in January – an 11% drop on the 191,852 inthe same month the year before.

In a statement to Newsbeat, the Department of Health and SocialCare said: “Cancer diagnosis and treatment has remained a top prioritythroughout the pandemic, with 1.86m urgent referrals and over 477,000people receiving cancer treatment between March 2020 and January 2021.

“We continue to urge people to come forward to their GP if theyhave symptoms.

As part of our additional investment in the NHS, an extra£1bn is being used to boost diagnosis and treatment across all areas ofelective care in the year ahead.”

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