THE number of people attending hospital for cancer treatment has dropped by 65 per cent according to one NHS trust.

North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust says the number of patients attending for cancer treatment plummeted in April.

Just 22 women attended hospital for suspected symptomatic breast cancer, a drop of more than 90 per cent from April 2019.

Medical director Deepak Dwarakanath said: “We completely understand that people are apprehensive about coming to hospital at the moment, but we are urging people not to delay in accessing treatment.

“We’ve put strict procedures in place throughout our hospitals, such as temporarily stopping visits, and physical distancing measures are evident in all our buildings.

“Anyone who needs to be referred to hospital should come to their appointments. We have options such as virtual consultations for follow ups and reviews, but there are some procedures we need to deliver in person.

“We’re all very concerned about the low numbers of people attending cancer appointments. We want everyone to be assured that their safety and well-being will always be our number priority.

“No one should be afraid to come into hospital.”

Other key cancer services have also seen significant reductions including colorectal cancers, which were down 60 per cent, lung cancers, down 40 per cent and urological cancers, down 60 per cent.

One patient, who wanted to remain anonymous, received successful breast cancer treatment after finding a lump while recovering from unconfirmed coronavirus.

She said: "Despite the coronavirus situation I felt safe. I managed to get a cancellation to have surgery two days after receiving a confirmed diagnosis of breast cancer.

“Throughout my journey everyone, doctors, nurses, radiographers, healthcare assistants and Breast Care Unit staff were so lovely and caring.

“Everyone was friendly, helpful, very positive and sympathetic of my nervousness. The speed of the care I have received to date and from everyone involved has been second to none.

“The only thing that worried me was the lack of other patients – treatment is available if they need it and every precaution is taken where coronavirus is concerned."

"I think some people believe the world has stopped for other illnesses such as mine.

“However, it hasn’t, if you need urgent treatment, you can get it. I know first-hand."