Stop cancer becoming the Forgotten 'C'

The UK is slowly emerging from the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic. We know that hardworking cancer professionals are still doing their absolute best to protect services, but the NHS is under strain. Sadly, in early 2021 we saw evidence of cancer operations being cancelled, sometimes in cases where urgent surgery was required.

Our behind-the-scenes influencing work is continuing at pace to make sure decision-makers are doing everything in their power to allow cancer care to continue and to catch up with the backlog.

Sign up as a Macmillan campaigner today, and take action for people living with cancer and the professionals that work with them. With you alongside us, we’ll make sure that cancer isn’t forgotten during or after this pandemic.

How coronavirus has impacted cancer treatment

When coronavirus first hit, thousands of vital cancer treatments, appointments and care were postponed or cancelled. Following a devastating third wave, the consequences of continued disruption to cancer services are impossible to ignore and the number of people missing a diagnosis has grown.

Cancer cannot remain the forgotten 'C' as we emerge from this pandemic. We need the government to guarantee investment in the cancer workforce and to see national and local action to future proof our ambitions for cancer services to ensure everyone receives world-leading personalised care.

For a full analysis of the first wave of the pandemic on cancer care, please see our report The Forgotten 'C'? The impact of Covid-19 on cancer (PDF).

The white title on the purple background reads: Cancer and COVID-19 in England.

Find out more about the current treatment and care backlog in our May 2021 briefing.

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Here’s what you can do

  • Do your bit to stop the spread of COVID-19 and reduce pressure on hospitals by following Government guidance in your area.
  • If you are living with cancer, news of operations being cancelled will be incredibly difficult to hear. However, lots of cancer services are continuing safely, so please do attend appointments for tests and treatment that are going ahead.
  • We urge anyone with worrying symptoms that could be cancer to come forward for treatment and advice. The NHS is there for you.

You can also support the Forgotten 'C' campaign by:

Tick the document name to select. Then click ‘Download selected’ to download

Take action in your nation

If you think you are not receiving the right care, we have also developed guides to help you take action. Select your location below to read about your rights in your nation.

An illustrated map of England with the text 'England' on a purple background. More info

England

Download our guide to help you take action if you think you are not receiving the right care:

We know that there are millions of people living with cancer who still need the right care, treatment and support right now. We also know that the third wave of this pandemic is very sadly causing more disruption to people’s cancer care.

The Government published a recovery plan for cancer services at the end of last year which runs up to the end of March 2021, but that was before anyone knew the impact this third wave would have on services.

The Government must ensure cancer is a priority throughout this third wave. We need urgent action and commitments to:

  • tackle the backlog, and to guarantee the NHS the resources it needs to meet increased demand
  • ensure access to all and any independent sector capacity
  • make sure every person diagnosed with cancer has the fully personalised care they need
  • publish a long term plan showing how cancer treatment will return as soon as possible.
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Northern Ireland More info

Northern Ireland

Download our guide to help you take action if you think you are not receiving the right care:

We know that there are many people living with cancer in Northern Ireland who still need the right care, treatment and support right now. We also know that the third wave of this pandemic is very sadly causing more disruption to people’s cancer care.

In October, the Executive published a rebuilding plan for cancer services in Northern Ireland. The Executive must ensure cancer is a priority throughout this third wave.

We need urgent action to:

  • make sure every person diagnosed with cancer has the fully personalised care they need
  • guarantee cancer services will have the resources they need to meet increased demand in the coming months.

Without immediate action, cancer services will feel the impact of COVID-19 long into the future.

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Scotland More info

Scotland

Download our guide to help you take action if you think you are not receiving the right care:

We know that there are many people living with cancer in Scotland who still need the right care, treatment and support right now.

In December 2020, the Scottish Government published the cancer recovery plan for 2020-2023. Macmillan’s key aims are to implement this plan focusing on:

  • a reduction in the size of the current cancer diagnosis, treatment and care backlog
  • a personalised approach to care for every cancer patient, supporting their emotional, financial and physical, as well as clinical, needs
  • all cancer screening programmes to continue during lockdown.
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Wales More info

Wales

Download our guide to help you take action if you think you are not receiving the right care:

We know many people had their cancer diagnosis and treatment interrupted during the first wave of the pandemic, and that the third wave is also impacting services in some areas.

We also know many people might still feel worried about accessing NHS services and coming forward with potential signs and symptoms of cancer. In the first wave, this led to a significant number of missed diagnoses and subsequent worse outcomes for those who have now entered the system much later than they ordinarily would have.

We want the Welsh Government to take positive action by:

  • developing a comprehensive plan to reduce the existing backlog in diagnosis and treatment that has built up as quickly as possible
  • guaranteeing personalised care as a priority in the recovery, ensuring people with cancer are fully supported with their physical, practical and emotional needs
  • funding a sustained public awareness campaign to encourage people to speak with their GP should they be concerned about signs and symptoms of cancer
  • prioritising the next phase of the Welsh Cancer Delivery Plan and working with Macmillan to create a positive vision for the next generation of cancer care.
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