A new study suggests that new diagnoses of breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric and esophageal cancers were down 46% between March 1 and April 18 of this year as regards the average diagnoses rates of previous years.
Updated patients medical records show that, due to the late detection, some patients’ conditions may be difficult to treat.
Doctor David S. Weinberg, gastroenterologist and director of Fox Chase Cancer Center’s department of medicine, said "No one is saying coronavirus prevents cancer. It just prevents getting care in a timely fashion," but was not involved in the study.
During the rise of COVID-19, several states, like Pennsylvania and New Jersey, declared that only the most urgent medical services would be trated in health systems, in order to prevent a lack of supplies of personal protective equipment and staff for treating a higher peak of contagion, and to decrease the exposure to the virus.
“Mid-March, we pretty much shut down a lot of our institution for elective-type procedures, but cancer didn’t stop,” Dr. Terry Tsue, the physician in chief at the Cancer Center, said.
Tsue indicated that the key cause taking part in this situation is fear. “Patients were scared to come, go outside the house,” he said. “People are still scared to go in, even though we are above the pre-COVID levels. There is still fear and you can sense that.”
The American Cancer Society promotes people to take regular screenings, emphasizing that early detection contributes to a more effective treatment. Because of the rise in unemployment and, as a consequence, people losing their health insurance, the American Cancer Society fears that a large number of Americans will still bypass taking examinations.
Dan Leong, senior manager of Cancer Control Strategic Partnerships for the American Cancer Society North Region, certainly affirms that, if cancer is not detected early, it can lead to unfortunate consequences.
He said “When we can’t detect (cancer) early, we know it’s going to have a huge affect down the line. The last thing we want is for patients to show up with symptoms of late-stage cancer, stage three or four cancers, at a hospital emergency department."
Leon said that even people who have lost their jobs and health insurance can be able to get health care - approaching to public health institutions, for example . “We want people to not forget about their health," he said.
"Sometimes, you want to put it off, but really have those prompt conversations and regular conversations to get the appropriate cancer screenings because it’s so important."