Andy Glyde, Cancer Research UK’s senior external affairs manager for Scotland, said that as well as Scots putting off seeing their GP, the pause in breast cancer screening services last year alongside the backlog of patients waiting for a diagnosis may have contributed to these missing cancers.
“Clearing the backlog of people waiting for tests will mean tackling staff shortages and investing in equipment to ensure cancer services are fit for the future, he said, warning that NHS Scotland also needs the capacity to treat people when they do finally enter the system.
SNP ministers have come under mounting pressure in recent months over the national emergency of Scotlands cancer waiting times backlog, with Scottish Labour repeatedly calling for the rollout of rapid diagnostic centres to be sped up.
These stark figures highlight the scale of the crisis we are facing in cancer care, said deputy leader and health spokesperson Jackie Baillie.
The potential impact of the pandemic on cancer treatment has been clear for a long time now, but there is still no plan in place to address the backlog.
Ms Baillie demanded that the promised rapid diagnostic centres must be rolled out urgently along with increases in staff and processing capacity to clear the screenings backlog within a year.
The SNP cannot waste any more time when lives are on the line, she warned.
Meanwhile, the Scottish Liberal Democrats have pointed out that although the pandemic has had an understandable impact on testing, the SNPs own target that no one should wait more than six weeks for a diagnostic test hasnt been met for over ten years.
This is a tragedy in the making. It’s time for an NHS recovery plan to get our health service fighting fit and help people to recover from the pandemic, said health spokesperson Alex Cole-Hamilton. 
Scottish Conservative public health spokesman, Dr Sandesh Gulhane, suggested fewer patients starting cancer treatment should be a “wake-up call over the scale of the challenge facing us in the next few years” and argued for a clinician-led, ring-fenced funding pot with the sole remit of bringing treatment times under control. 
People already faced long waits before Covid but now, the queues for essential treatments are growing at a startling rate.
The Scottish Government has been approached for comment.