HEALTH campaigners have warned cancer “cannot become the forgotten C”, after a report showed patients in more deprived areas are being diagnosed at a later stage with some forms of the disease.

The Cancer Incidence in Scotland paper said cases of cervical cancer are twice as high in women in the most deprived parts of the country when compared to the least deprived.

Women from poorer areas are more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cervical cancer when the disease has spread to other parts of the body. The report said: “Among the commonest cancers in Scotland, there was convincing evidence that socioeconomic deprivation increased the likelihood of being diagnosed with more advanced cancers of the bowel, cervix, female breast, head and neck, and prostate.

“For these cancers, patients were more likely to have cancers that had spread to other parts of the body (metastatic disease – stage four) in the most deprived groups compared to the least deprived groups.”

With cancer screening services having been on hold during the coronavirus crisis, Macmillan Cancer Support raised. Janice Preston, the charity’s head of services in Scotland, said: “We’re concerned the impact of Covid-19 will make this already worrying situation much worse.

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She added: “There has been huge disruption in cancer testing and significant reductions in people contacting their GPs with potential cancer symptoms. We’re very concerned this will have a disproportionate impact on people living in deprived communities.

“Cancer cannot become the forgotten C. The Scottish Government must get cancer services back up and running as soon as possible, with a renewed focus on tackling the impact of deprivation on late diagnosis.”

The report, published by Public Health Scotland, said there are “several reasons” for people in more deprived areas being diagnosed later – noting a lower take-up rate for breast, bowel and cervical cancer screening in such areas.

Looking at breast cancer, the report said women from more deprived areas are more likely to be diagnosed with the disease at stage four when it has spread to other parts of the body.

Head and neck cancers are also more likely to be diagnosed at the most advanced stage. In cases of prostate cancer, it said men living in less deprived areas were more likely to be diagnosed at an early stage.