Sheffield city region mayor Dan Jarvis calls for people worried about cancer to get checked out or risk chances of survival

People need to be alert to the symptoms of cancer and not be afraid to seek advice from their GPs or they could limit the chances of surviving as a consequence, according to Yorkshire's only elected metro mayor.

Dan Jarvis, whose wife Caroline Jarvis was diagnosed with bowel cancer in 2006 and died at the age of 43 in 2010, said he was "deeply concerned" by research showing that there could be 3,500 avoidable cancer deaths in the next five years because of coronavirus.

The Yorkshire Post reported yesterday that as many as 3,500 lives may be lost to four common cancers over the next five years due to delays in diagnosis caused by Covid-19.

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A drop-off in the number of people seeing their GP with symptoms, and lower referrals for scans, could result in cancer being spotted too late, according to research published in The Lancet Oncology.

As many as 3,500 lives may be lost to four common cancers over the next five years due to delays in diagnosis caused by Covid-19, according to experts. Photo credit: Shutterstock

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Dan Jarvis, 47, who is the mayor of the Sheffield City Region and Barnsley Central’s MP, told the Yorkshire Post that he was working alongside the NHS in South Yorkshire and with Cancer Research UK to minimise the impact locally.

He said: "As someone with first-hand experience of the pain and heartache that cancer causes to patients and their families, it is deeply concerning that some patients may not have been diagnosed and started treatment as early as they could have under normal circumstances."

Mr Jarvis said while he welcomed news that screening programmes to detect bowel, breast and cervical cancer are now working through the backlog of cases, there must be a concerted effort from the Department of Health and Social Care and NHS providers to ensure that patients are screened.

Sheffield City Region Mayor and Barnsley Central MP Dan Jarvis is working alongside the NHS in South Yorkshire and with Cancer Research UK to minimise the impact locally.

He added: "Early diagnosis and treatment saves lives.

"We are stalling up quite significant problems with those people who have not been diagnosed as earlier as they might have otherwise been.

"There is no doubt in my mind that some of those people will die as a consequence.

"Already there are people who have died not of Covid-19, but because of it."

Far fewer GP face-to-face appointments have taking place due to coronavirius.

Dr Séamus O'Neill, the chief executive for the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA), added: "There are real fears because the health service, particularly the hospitals, have predominantly dealt with coronavirus for some time - but that doesn’t mean that cancer has gone away - far from it.

"There is a backlog of health issues and there is going to be a huge surge of need in a number of areas.

"The health service is going to need help and understanding from the Government in dealing with that. That is an imperative and public health needs to be underpinned."

An NHS spokeswoman said hospitals have "successfully and quickly cared" for patients urgently referred by GPs, with more than 94 per cent of cases being investigated within 14 days in May.

Pictured, Dr Samus O'Neill, the chief executive for the Northern Health Science Alliance (NHSA).

The spokeswoman added: "The NHS is taking urgent action to increase the number of tests carried out so that people are seen quickly, and more than 65,000 people have started treatment for cancer during the pandemic."

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