10 months later Where IS this ‘tsunami of cancer deaths?’

Throughout the day today, this from BBC Scotland:

A Scottish cancer charity says it’s supporting patients who have a lower chance of survival, because Covid led to services being put on hold. During the first lockdown, 4 000 fewer people were diagnosed with the disease, when screening and testing was put on hold. Although services are back up and running, Cancer Support Scotland say it’s seeing patients who’ll die sooner because of a delay in their diagnosis.

We’ve been hearing of tsunamis of cancer deaths since the early days of the pandemic restrictions. The first use of the word, I can find was on the 3rd April, 10 months ago. Since then, we’ve seen a flood of tsunamis, expertly surfed by Monica Lennon and she was still riding the wave in November, unconcerned by the evidence that it might not be real.

Here are just some of the reports predicting the tsunami of death:

But, what’s the evidence?

On December 6th, from Pete Whitehouse, Director of Statistical Services at the National Records of Scotland on 2nd December: 

Excess deaths from all causes began to increase in October, but this is almost entirely due to the corresponding rise in COVID-19 deaths. Deaths from causes such as respiratory diseases and cancer are below average levels for this time of year.

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/news/2020/deaths-involving-covid-19-week-48-23th-29th-november

Over the whole of 2020, cancer deaths seem to have reduced.

Now, I hesitate here due to my lack of expertise. Readers may be able to correct or help out. I will change this section if I have to.

But according to the NRS, there were 16 275 deaths due to ‘Malignant Neoplasms (C00-C97)’ but there had been 16 478 in the previous year, 2019.

I can’t see any sign of other types of cancer in the NRS data, if there are any.

https://www.nrscotland.gov.uk/statistics-and-data/statistics/statistics-by-theme/vital-events/general-publications/weekly-and-monthly-data-on-births-and-deaths/monthly-data-on-births-and-deaths-registered-in-scotland

While some of these deaths may not yet have happened yet, surely enough will have to push the figures up?

When I first became aware of this apparent anomaly of fewer cancer deaths this year, I wrote to several professors of oncology and epidemiology – no answers. I wrote to several politicians responsible or opposition spokespersons for health – vague non-answers.

Update:

My wife, not an epidemiologist but a TV detective, has suggested: ‘What if Covid killed many before they could die of the cancer they had?’

Could there be enough of them to stem the tide, so to speak?

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13 thoughts on “10 months later Where IS this ‘tsunami of cancer deaths?’”

    1. Looking at the cancer research site the fact that around 70% of cancer deaths are 70 and over (only did the male stats but the female look similar), it would seem likely many of the most cancer vulnerable are also the Covid vulnerable.

      So it seems a reasonable assumption with many in this age group dying from Covid the cancer stats will actually reduce. What you might see is a change in the age balance as younger people become proportionally larger (not necessarily more people just higher in the stats resulting from the reduction of older people).

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  1. I am sure the Pandemic has had an impact on those suffering other medical issues. The word Triage described the need to prioritise in a demanding situation when resources are overloaded. It is implemented in War, Floods, Fires etc etc.

    My concern is the large number of politicians who have sought to use the Pandemic for political reasons.

    It would be easy to critique a medic on a battlefield moving on from a casualty with minutes to live to treat three others who can be saved…but why would you. Very few people have been in a situation in which lifesaving decisions have to be made urgently. This is not the World of debates and reviews with lessons learned meetings. We had a Pandemic and urgent action was required.

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  2. I think your wife is probably right – cancer may well be one of those underlying health issues that figure in daily statistics. Not sire though if that means the people with cancer were failed eg if typical treatments postponed due to covid would have made a difference to survival rates had treatment been available?

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  3. This is why “excess deaths” is the best measurement of the impact of the pandemic. It is also something the BBC wont cover, as it protects the Johnson Regime.
    As people avoid doctors, it is inevitable conditions will be left too long to treat.
    It is also inevitable that in Scotland, our colonial media will big up anything they can use to scare us into political submission.
    It hasnt worked so far, but the war against Sturgeon will change that dynamic.

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    1. “This is why ‘excess deaths’ is the best measurement of the impact of the pandemic.” Said not for the first time by you and others – and still absolutely correct!

      It was put the following way in an article for the World Economic Forum as long ago as 29 July 2020:

      “Comparing a country with its own past means that factors such as population demographics, disease incidence, poverty, inequality and the effectiveness of healthcare systems are less liable to skew the data. A measure of excess deaths also tends to smooth out any differences in the way deaths are counted. It allows us to see the full impact of COVID-19 on mortality, including deaths that were not directly attributable to the virus.”

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  4. 50,000 people die in Scotland a year. On average 1,000 a week. More in the winter than the summer, mainly of old age, The numbers will not be fully evident until it is averaged out after March.

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  5. Many of the covid labelled cases and fatalities would have been cancer or flu in a ‘normal’ year. Flu has mysteriously disappeared this winter…

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  6. Once more and which i shall never tire off
    I present the following facts
    1.12 yr ago had a cancerous removed from her bowel
    2.On 28th Jan 21 i phoned her GP explaining
    That she was experiencing abnormal bowel , movements, loss of appetite in last 10 days
    And weight loss
    Result
    1 Appointment 2 days later and assessed by GP
    2.He told her that referral to western General
    Diagnostics
    3 Three days later tel.call from the Western
    And appointment made for 12th Feb
    Along with that 2 letters in the post
    4.Letters arrived today with appointment date and requirements for her to do
    Along with 2 test kits to return ASAP and prior appointment and explained that the tests would greatly assist them whilst she undergoes investigation during her hospital
    Appointment

    To me this clearly demonstrates that her GP
    Was well aware of her previous problems and has acted expeditiously and no doubt conveyed such when he contacted the Hospital for refferal
    Who in turn have responded expeditiously
    And in a most appropriate matter
    What more could possibly be done during these exceptional time SHNS are experiencing
    In conclusion We thank our lucky stars that we are citizens of Scotland
    I shudder to think as to what the end game of all this would be if in England
    But tis a act of utter futility to convey this matter to the ABC (BBC) Would it not
    Why because of what i speak is the truth,whole truth and nothing but the truth
    Therefore factual but they do not deal in facts or Truth do they.Hence the futility
    A charge that should be tattooed upon their foreheads

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I don’t know about cancer, but because of lockdowns, reduced contact with people generally and mask wearing, I can’t remember the last time I had a cold. Must be over a year ago now, and I usually have two or three corkers a year.

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  8. Perhaps deaths from cancer have reduced.
    But what would do that ?
    In Scotland ?
    Well, we know a lot of people in scotland have smoked
    We know there are too many people drinking too much alcohol
    We know there are too many people live on food from cafes and small restaurants where the healthy options might not be the majority of what is on offer.

    Id say that pubs closing will have reduced the amount of overdrinking of alcohol substantially
    The supermarkets only deliver to your home if you order over £40 or so
    The supermarkets have some delivery slots where no alcohol can be included
    Do people smoke more when they drink alcohol yes they do i took part in a study by belfast university that said they do

    All in all id say there have been great health benefits by pubs closing

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