DOCTORS missed 100 cases of cancer every day in 2020 because of the Covid shutdown.
The number of people diagnosed plunged 12 per cent due to lockdowns and efforts to save the NHS.
Official figures show new tumour cases fell from 896 per day in 2019 to 789 per day in 2020.
Medics warn there was no drop in people getting sick â only in the number starting treatment.
CEO of Cancer Research UK, Michelle Mitchell, said: âCovid hugely disrupted cancer care.
âCancer screening effectively stopped for months, the number of people being referred for tests dropped, and many tests and treatments were delayed.
âBut the crisis facing cancer services was accelerated by the pandemic, not caused by it.â
A drop in the number of cases picked up means survival odds are worse for patients who slipped through the cracks.
In total, there were 288,753 new cancers in 2020, compared to 327,174 in 2019.
The biggest drop in major cancers was for prostate, which saw official cases plummet by 24 per cent.
Macmillan Cancer Support said the data, from NHS Digital, show there were 38,000 âmissingâ people who did not get a diagnosis in 2020.
The charityâs Minesh Patel called the figures âcatastrophicâ.
He said: âMany people were badly affected by the disruption to cancer services.
“Others were simply too frightened of catching the coronavirus to visit their GP, or worried about putting additional pressure on the NHS at what was an incredibly challenging time.
“Sadly, we are still living in the long shadow cast by the pandemic.
“Delays in being diagnosed and treated for cancer remain an agonising reality for tens of thousands of people.”
Peter Johnson, cancer director at NHS England, said: âTodayâs data provides a snapshot of the short-term impact of the pandemic on the number of people coming forward for cancer services.
“But a lot has changed since then.
âSince March 2021, cancer referrals have been running at record highs, with the latest figures showing over a quarter of a million people referred for urgent checks in a single month.
âWe know there is still more to do, and we continue to urge people to come forward.”
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: âThe NHS still prioritised cancer treatment throughout the pandemic and we are working at pace to improve outcomes for those suffering from the disease.
âOver 80 community diagnostic centres have now delivered over two million additional checks, tests and scans closer to peopleâs homes and we are expanding the number of surgical hubs to deliver millions more operations.â