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World Cancer Day: How COVID-19 pandemic contributed to surge in advanced and metastatic cancer cases

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In a recent interview with TimesNow News, Dr Mandeep Singh Malhotra, Department of Oncology at CK Birla Hospital, shares his view on how pandemic has affected the cancer patients and regular check-ups for doctors.

Due to the pandemic, there has been a delay in cancer screenings, diagnosis, treatment, and palliative care.  According to the Lancet study of 2020, there was a 54 per cent reduction in new patients registered between March 1 and May 31, 2020. Cancer patients who had follow-up visits decreased from 46 per cent and hospital admissions saw a reduction of 36 per cent. Cancer screening was stopped completely or was functioning at less than 25 per cent of usual capacity at more than 70 per cent of centers during these months“, he added.

How did covid obstruct cancer diagnosis?

The top four ways for us.

  1. Fear of covid will make the patient not focus on cancer symptoms
  2. Lockdown and travelling restrictions lead to a lack of access to health care.
  3. Fear of hospitalisation in covid pandemic
  4. Psychologically public are getting diverted from other health-related problems in the covid pandemic

How did COVID-19 impact cancer diagnosis and treatment?

We have noticed many instances where patients presented with locally advanced diseases feared the idea of contracting covid in hospital. Since the focus of health agencies and hospitals has been on covid detection and management, the rest of the diseases have taken a backseat. This has impacted cancer patients the most. There have been patients who were initially Stage I and chose to stay at home, and after a few months when presented to the hospital, they had already entered stage IV of the disease. As such, covid has not itself caused a spurt in the incidence of any specific cancer. However, this issue will become clearer in coming years, as one of the spokesperson pointed out.

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