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Less deaths due to cancer

(78 Posts)
Gran52 Tue 14-Apr-20 05:46:37

I am confused here.... although many people are dying 'after testing positive for coronavirus' are they actually dying FROM coronavirus? I note that overall death rates from all causes are very similar to previous years and yet deaths from cancer, heart disease, COPD, influenza etc have now plummeted.... anyone have any thoughts what could be explanation for this?

vegansrock Tue 14-Apr-20 06:00:28

Coronavirus: How to understand the death toll

Gran52 Tue 14-Apr-20 06:03:25

So coronavirus stops people dying from cancer then?

vegansrock Tue 14-Apr-20 06:13:05

Read the article - it’s all about calculating the excess deaths that occur. People still die obviously , but cv is a new illness- and is shown in many cases to kill prematurely. We won’t know until we get the complete picture, it is estimated that with all the lockdown measures there will be an excess of 20,000 deaths , without the lockdown It could be half a million. That’s just projections.

Gran52 Tue 14-Apr-20 06:16:56

It does not make sense though.... people with end stage cancer .... cause of death stated on death certificate as coronavirus

vegansrock Tue 14-Apr-20 06:20:41

Well we don’t know how many in care homes and in their own homes die of CV as they aren’t counted.

BlueBelle Tue 14-Apr-20 06:41:29

I have said all along that the stats are totally skewed , some as vegan says have not been counted, which is ridiculous, why not? But equally ridiculous are all these deaths, which would have died anyway terminal cancer being one or someone suffering heart failure
The stats show people who died ‘with’ Corona not necessarily from it
If the stats for all other deaths have gone down considerable surely thats proof that the counting is totally up the Swanee

Hetty58 Tue 14-Apr-20 07:00:43

I'd say it's impossible to determine the cause of death precisely. Was it the virus (probably) or an underlying illness? Does it matter? In normal times, many people die with cancer - but from something else, like heart disease.

We can't expect many post mortems in an emergency situation - normal rules don't apply - they simply can't.

oldgimmer1 Tue 14-Apr-20 07:23:07

What I'm reading is that, if a person dies with Coronavirus, it is noted as the cause of death as it's a notifiable disease. So if a person has end stage cancer, and has CV, the death is noted as CV and not cancer.

There's a difference between dying OF CV and dying WITH CV (imho) but all deaths are counted as CV deaths.

Another interesting thing from that graph is that that, despite CV, the death rate overall has not changed, or changed very little.

vegansrock Tue 14-Apr-20 07:24:35

Sorry, but the death rate has increased considerably- ask any funeral director or crematorium.

Hetty58 Tue 14-Apr-20 07:30:26

The graph is 'the risk of dying each year - by age', not death rates - and we've only had CV for a few months.

suziewoozie Tue 14-Apr-20 07:33:25

Arguing about dying with and dying of ignore the really important point of dying prematurely. Losing months/ years of life does matter and is part of the cost of the CV pandemic. And another part of the cost is how people are dying without families with them, maybe frightened, without the usual comforts and dignity. We also have a lot to learn about the longer term consequences of having had CV.

oldgimmer1 Tue 14-Apr-20 07:45:10

@hetty: thanks for the clarification. Much too early in the morning for me. grin.

Cunco Tue 14-Apr-20 08:04:32

Figures for registered deaths in England and Wales are published by the Office of National Statistics. The latest week available is the week to 27 March which shows total deaths of 11,141 compared with 10,130, the average of the corresponding week for the past 5 years. Interestingly, in previous weeks of 2020, there was no visible trend of higher or lower deaths in 2020 compared with the average of the previous 5 years.

The figures also show location of registered deaths such as home, hospital etc. and location by area. There are also some relating to COVID-19 but they do not correspond directly to the figures shown daily on TV. The ONS are registered deaths and relate just to England and Wales.

This is an emerging sad story but I think these numbers may help to add a perspective missing from sole focus in the impact of COVID-19.

oldgimmer1 Tue 14-Apr-20 08:14:31

Thanks cunco.

What I'm finding is that the news sources tend to quote absolute figures, which are unhelpful without the overall context.

Cunco Tue 14-Apr-20 08:24:51

oldgimmer1 I agree. The reporting can veer too much to the sensational and the political and too little to putting this emergency into perspective. These ONS figures for 2020 will inevitably get worse but we do need the base line from previous years to give that perspective.

M0nica Tue 14-Apr-20 09:21:50

The statistics are not 'skewed'. They are all totally inaccurate and can only be used as a guide to the direction of casualties rather than any guide to actual numbers.

The reasons for that statement are as follows:

1) We have no idea what the incidence of Covid is in the population as a whole, because we are not doing any population sampling and testing.

2) The only deaths that seem to be counted are hospital deaths. There are, as we know, many deaths in Care Homes and some at home, that are not being properly counted into the figures.

3) Covid is being given as a cause of death where anyone has the virus in their body, regardless of whether they have devloped the disease, remember it has in incubation stage of up to a week. For example when my father died of heart disease, he also had early stage bladder cancer, which played no part in his death and is not mentioned on his death certificate. So people could actually be dying from cancer, heart attacks or strokes, but being listed as dying of Covid, merely because the virus is present - and this needs to be noted because it controls how the body was treated after death.

So, in fact, we have no idea how many people have or have had Covid and we have no idea how many have died from it. All we can say is that they are predominantly elderly and have other medical conditions.

We will not have any idea of how many have died from Covid until we have the figures for total deaths over the months, say March - August this year and compare them with the average for, say, the last five years.

Cunco Tue 14-Apr-20 09:33:20

I know this looks like I am a statistical nerd but I think this is quite important.

Using the ONS figures for year to date to 27 March 2020, I calculate that there were 150,057 registered total deaths in England and Wales. On average over the past 5 years, over the comparable period, there were 153,868 registered total deaths. So, until 27 March in 2020, there were over 3,000 fewer deaths than average.

This comparison will inevitably change for the worse, probably much worse, but perspective is important.

Bazza Tue 14-Apr-20 09:41:23

One cause of death, stabbing, seems to have stopped altogether. Unless it’s just not being reported. Something positive about staying at home.

Cunco Tue 14-Apr-20 09:45:10

M0nica I am not sure whether you are referring to the ONS figures for registered deaths or the daily figures for COVID-19 when you say: 'They are all totally inaccurate and can only be used as a guide to the direction of casualties rather than any guide to actual numbers.'

I don't see why the figures for registered deaths, collected over many years, and published with a 2 week lag should be 'totally inaccurate'. The ONS has only just started its COVID-19 category and it refers to registered deaths where COVID-19 is referred to as a factor. As far as it goes, I imagine it's accurate if, as yet, limited.

Please explain.

SirChenjin Tue 14-Apr-20 09:45:32

For perspective, my sister is a community nurse currently recovering from covid-19. She was nursing and will continue to nurse very sick people with chronic and terminal conditions. Both groups are dying from covid, whereas previously patients on the chronic group would have survived with nursing and care input.

The official statistics are telling us very little at this stage - the reports from community staff are starting to show how they will look in months to come.

M0nica Tue 14-Apr-20 09:54:56

I am talking about the reported Covid figures. I have, and have always had complete confidence in ONS figures on any subject.

Callistemon Tue 14-Apr-20 09:57:51

Some people living with cancer or long term conditions may have immune systems which may be lower than normal because of the medication they are on.

They could, with careful monitoring and by taking care of their general health, live for very many years, a normal life span in fact. However, if an unknown and virulent infection such as COVID19 comes along for which there is, as yet, no vaccine, then that could overwhelm their system.

So it will have been the virus which hastened their death and killed them. They will have died with their underlying condition not from it.

M0nica Tue 14-Apr-20 10:03:48

Sorry, posted too soon. For death statistics the ONS has to go on what is written on the death certificates, and they are not always accurate.

I received an apology from a care home when a doctor put on the death certificate of a relation that Alzheimers contributed to his death as well as cancer. In fact, while he had dementia, he unquestionably did not have Alzheimers and the cause of his death was cancer alone.

The same is already happening to Covid. It is being put on death certificates, because the virus was present, even though it may not have contributed to the death. The only way to get a feel for the real number will be from the excess deaths, month by month during the pandemic.

EllanVannin Tue 14-Apr-20 10:13:18

Many genuinely ill people aren't turning up at A&E because of fear of catching the virus so are foregoing any visits to see surgeons/consultants therefore dying at home.