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Lockdown 2020 Led to Surge in Oral Cancer Cases


There has been a wave of oral cancers being caught at later stages because dentists did not pick up early signs due to coronavirus lockdown closures.

Dental services were suspended during the first shutdown in March 2020, with access to regular appointments not resumed until June 8th.


Matthew Garrett from the Royal College of Surgeons has said that because many patients were forced to use phone or video conference consultations in all but serious dental cases and emergencies, dental practitioners were not able to pick up on the subtle changes to soft tissue in the mouth, or other neck or head conditions which could have meant catching some cancers early.

“Anecdotally, patients are now presenting later with more advanced oral cancer, which means the tumours are larger and surgery is more complicated,” Mr Garrett said.

A report from Cardiff University and Cancer Research UK released last week revealed that during the first lockdown, almost half of those who had a suspected symptom of cancer did not go to the GP for help, again, because they did not want to overstretch the National Health Service, with researchers finding that Britons were put off by the government’s “stay home, protect the NHS, save lives” message.

With some ten million backlogged dentist appointments, the British Dental Association believes that it could take months, or even years, to catch up.

Healthwatch England, a health and social care services watchdog, released a report revealing that “people have been asked to wait for up to two years to see an NHS dentist.”