New Public Health Scotland figures published today show that in 2019 and 2020 there were 23,830 patients diagnosed with breast, colorectal or lung cancer, down from 25,412 in 2018 and 2019, a fall of 6.2%.
New data also shows that mortality rates for all cancers combined are 66% higher in the most deprived compared with the least deprived areas.
Responding, Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton MSP said:
"These figures show significant falls in the number of patients diagnosed with cancer.
"We know that early diagnosis and treatment is crucial to patient's chances of survival so this raises enormous red flags for what the full 2020 and 2021 figures will show.
"The Scottish Government need to undertake rapid work to assess the scale of the challenge. Then we need fresh funds and resources coupled with a timeline for meeting cancer waiting times targets to ensure that the knock-on effects of the pandemic do not do even more damage to people's health."