The Herald’s Health Correspondent has just notices a trend and an anomaly – cancer deaths falling despite less treatment during the pandemic – which TuS reported on the first signs of two years ago.
Amid the current media feeding frenzy to topple another Scottish Health Secretary with supposed malpractice in NHS Tayside’s oncology department also two years ago, this story is fascinating.
From the Herald today:
Here’s what we wrote in October 2022:
Throughout 2020 and into 2021, Scottish Labour tastelessly weaponised the inevitable reductions in cancer treatment, especially surgery, to protect vulnerable patients from a deadly virus. The ‘tsunami of cancer deaths‘ featured in multiple headlines as Scottish Labour flaunted their faux compassion.
Some time ago, I wondered when this wave might appear in the NRS mortality data. It seemed not to but my attempts to get an answer from medics and researchers were met with silence. I guess they feared being associated with the notion that some, at least, cancer surgery or other treatment is not saving lives. The most recent of my posts on this is at the foot of this report.
Today, however, we read from Public Health Scotland, this stunning comment:
The continuing decrease in cancer mortality rates is consistent with long-term trends. Therefore, it appears that the pandemic did not adversely impact cancer mortality rates in 2021.https://www.publichealthscotland.scot/publications/cancer-mortality/cancer-mortality-in-scotland-annual-update-to-2021/
For the stat geeks, this research properly compares two 4-year blocks of data, 2016-2020 and 2017-2021, and finds a significant fall in mortality for all cancers for all 5 deprivation levels.
There has clearly been no tsunami of cancer deaths despite significant reductions in treatment. Some sacred cows should be at least examined?