Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Impact of COVID-19 on Colorectal Cancer diagnoses and treatments

Visual depiction of colorectal cancer

Researchers from the UK Colorectal Cancer Intelligence Hub within the Nuffield Department of Population Health have been working with NHS Digital and a team of experts from other UK universities and hospitals, to undertake analyses to investigate how the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer patients has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Results based on data collected by Public Health England and NHS Digital from English hospitals throughout 2019 and up to 31 October 2020 were published in The Lancet Gastroenterology and Hepatology on 14 January 2021. The results show that the number of new diagnoses of colorectal cancer fell by 22% at the height of the first wave of COVID-19 cases and surgical treatment rates fell by 31%. (Read the press release).

By the end of October, the number of new diagnoses, had returned to similar levels to 2019, but there remained a backlog with around 3,500 fewer cancers being found than would be expected, suggesting that many patients have missed out on early diagnosis and lifesaving treatment.

The research team are continuing to monitor the impact of the pandemic on the diagnosis and treatment of colorectal cancer patients.

PDF of results - December 2021

Monthly number of 31-day to treatment pathway referrals and the proportion of referrals meeting that target in England to November 2021