The ripple effect of COVID increases has been a warning from health professionals working at the frontlines of this pandemic. Hospitals that have too many COVID patients will be forced to put off when cases spike. lifesaving “elective” procedures,These include heart valve replacements and surgeries for cancer.
Sobering new research also warns that there has been a substantial decline in new cancer diagnoses — a decline that has extended beyond the earliest stage of the pandemic, when shutdowns were widespread.
This study was published in Cancer. It used national data from Veterans Health Administration, from 2018 through 2020. Researchers found that the rate of cancer screening procedures fell dramatically during the pandemic.
The number of colonoscopies used to screen the disease has dropped by 45% by 2020. Prostate biopsies were also down by 29%. In addition, there was a drop in prostate biopsies which screen for cancer. There were also drops in chest CT scans that detect cancer and bladder cancer.
Depending on what type of cancer, new cancer diagnosis rates have also declined by between 13% and 23%.
“I fully anticipate that we’re going to see the consequences of this play out over the next decade,” study researcher Brajesh Kumar Lal, an associate professor of surgery and director of endovascular surgery with The University Of Maryland Medical System, told HuffPost.
Indeed, detecting cancer early — ideally before a person has any symptoms — is often a matter of life or death. Researchers have foundColonoscopies, in particular, can reduce colon cancer death rates by half among patients at high risk. Each month that goes by without a treatment for cancer can lead to a higher risk of death. by 10%.
Research has shown that COVID directly impacts cancer outcomes in the developing world.
“A research study from Brazil has shown that short-term decreases in cancer care led to increased cancer-related deaths, with the mortality rate of hospitalized patients with cancer increasing by 14% in 2020 compared to 2019,” said Diane Reidy Lagunes, associated deputy physician-in-chief and a medical oncologist with Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York City. “Similar increases in cancer-related mortality are expected in the U.K. as well, with the UK Lung Cancer CoalitionThe five could die from lung cancer if they are not diagnosed in time. years after diagnosis by about 5%.”
Lal argued that his findings are important to consider now, because they do not simply show that cancer screenings dropped early on the pandemic when the world largely shut down; they suggest they’re persisting.
“We still haven’t recovered,” he said.
“It will be years before we truly quantify the impact COVID has had on cancer care.”
Lal stated that there are simple solutions to help. Nearly every state has loosened its regulations to allow healthcare providers to offer telemedicine to patients who are unable to come into the office or prefer not to during the pandemic, and Lal believes doctors can use that technology to reach out to patients who have missed routine screenings and “bring them back into the fold.”
Hospitals can also separate COVID patients from non-COVID patients to the extent they’re able as cases surge yet again. “Organize these screening activities in areas of the hospital that don’t have a lot of traffic, or perhaps even outside the main hospital in smaller offices, so patients are not exposed to high-risk conditions,” Lal said.
It is clear that bringing an end to the pandemic can also bring back a more balanced health system. Doctors and nurses are clear: those who are unwilling to get vaccinated are at much greater risk of being hospitalized due to COVID — which strains resources and makes it more difficult for them to do their jobs effectively.
Cancer patients face serious consequences.
“It will be years before we truly quantify the impact COVID has had on cancer care,” Lagunes said. “We are worried that in the next coming years, we will see an increase in the number of later-stage patients.”
COVID-19 remains a mystery to experts. This story contains information that was available at the time of publication. However, guidance may change as more scientists learn about this virus. Thank you check the Centers for Disease Control and PreventionFor the latest recommendations, click here