The NHS is facing scores of lawsuits from cancer patients who missed out on life-saving treatment in lockdown, the Mail can reveal.
Leading firms of lawyers have been contacted by hundreds who missed vital scans, tests and surgery because of worries over the pandemic.
One company is representing 150 patients, including dozens who have had their life-expectancy slashed.
Several clients have lost loved ones early as a result of cancer care delays, it says.
Many of the victims are younger patients hit by particularly aggressive forms of the disease.
Charities fear up to 35,000 extra deaths may be caused by cancer because hospitals cancelled virtually all procedures, including check-ups and operations, to cope with the coronavirus crisis when it struck.
The backlog is so large that three million are now waiting for screening, says Cancer Research UK.