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Publication, Part of

Emergency Presentations of Cancer: Quarterly Data , Q4 2020/21 (Jan to March 2021)

January to March 2021

Cancer presentations in England

The total number of cancer patients first seen as an inpatient in hospital in England reduced from 64,415 during October to December 2020 to 63,172 during January to March 2021. This number is starting to return to, although is still significantly lower than, levels observed before the first national COVID-19 lockdown in England, which began 23 March 2020; there was a quarterly average of 66,933 cancer patients first seen in hospital between January to March 2016 and January to March 2020.

The number of emergency presentations has risen from 12,909 during October to December 2020 to 13,254 during January to March 2021. This number is higher than the quarterly average number (12,901) of emergency presentations over the 4 years (between January to March 2016 and January to March 2020) before the first national COVID-19 lockdown in England, which began 23 March 2020.

The proportion of new cancer patients presenting as an emergency presentation has also risen from 20.0% during October to December 2020 to 21.0% during January to March 2021. This proportion is significantly higher than the average proportion (19.3%) over the 4 years before the first national COVID-19 lockdown (between January to March 2016 and January to March 2020).

Figure 1 provides the quarterly number of cancer patients first seen in hospital (written as total in the legend of Figure 1), emergency presentations, and non-emergency presentations from April to June 2016 (financial year 2016, quarter 1) to January to March 2021 (financial year 2020, quarter 4).

Figure 1 shows a steep decline in the total number of cancer patients first seen in hospital during April to June 2020, with numbers starting to rise towards previous levels during July to September 2020 and October to December 2020, however these slightly reduce during January to March 2021. A similar trend in the number of non-emergency presentations is also shown.  The number of emergency presentations has stayed relatively consistent over time. This suggests that the increase in the proportion of emergency presentations is predominantly driven by the decrease in non-emergency presentations, and not by an increase in the number of emergency presentations.


Variation over the Clinical Commissioning Groups

Across the 106 Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs), the proportion of cancer patients presenting as an emergency during January to March 2021 varied from 12.2% to 30.4% with an interquartile range of 4.5% (from 19.3% to 23.7%). There are no obvious geographical patterns to the CCG variation.


Variation over the Cancer Alliances

Across the 21 Cancer Alliances (CAs), the proportion of cancer patients who first presented as an emergency during January to March 2020 varied from 17.2% to 23.7% with an interquartile range of 2.3% (from 19.9% to 22.2%). There are no obvious geographical patterns to the CA variation.




Last edited: 8 December 2021 12:32 pm