Clinicians hope the findings will persuade people that it is safe to attend their endoscopy appointments, which can be crucial in detecting cancer at an early stage. Detecting and treating cancer early is a key part of ongoing successful treatment.
The findings coincide with a national campaign reminding people that safe cancer care is still available. A recent survey showed that nearly half the public would delay or not seek medical help at all, with 22 per cent not wanting to burden the health service, and a similar number saying that fear of getting COVID-19 or passing it onto others was a major reason for not getting help.
The study, published in the international gastroenterology and hepatology journal, Gut, was conducted in 18 UK healthcare centres, which included tertiary and local settings serving a broad range of populations.
Data were collected from 6,208 patients undergoing endoscopy at the 18 centres between 30 April and 30 June 2020. Follow-up data on symptoms showed that there were no cases of COVID-19 detected – in the patients or staff - in the two weeks following the procedure.
The study was supported by the NIHR Oxford Biomedical Research Centre.