The Times (Scotland) headlining English data to feed anxiety with NHS Scotland and, of course by proxy, implicate the SNP Government, is one thing, an all-too-familiar thing, but the headline has triggered something else.
The other data is from campaign group estimates and against a background of taget-busting performance in cancer waiting times. See:
It’s a sensitive matter but, one more time, I’ll raise it – is living with an undiagnosed cancer always a bad thing? Treatment can be extremely damaging to health and as we say in NHS Tayside last year reducing treatment does not always lead to worsening outcomes. See:
All of the data referred to in the Times is about treatment but there is nothing to evidence any consequent increase in deaths due to lack of treatment.
On December 6th 2020, 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.
Over the whole of 2020, cancer deaths seem to have reduced.
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.
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.
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?
That was December 2020. Has the tsunami of cancer deaths arrived yet, well-over a year since treatment was reduced?
The NRS data has only malignant neoplasms, circulatory, respiratory and other causes of death so I take the first is the same as cancer deaths.
So, between 2019 and 2020, no tsunami, no significant change at all and between 2019 and 2021 so far, a reduction in cancer deaths in 4 out of 5 months.
Is much cancer treatment just ritualistic. Remember when NHS Tayside reduced chemo doses for breast cancer and the death rate was no different?