In the past year, the coronavirus has indirectly affected other pathologies, including cancer, which continues to be one of the main causes of mortality in Spain. Specifically, in 2020, it was the third pathology in number of deaths, with 20.4% of deaths, surpassed by cardiovascular diseases (23%) and infectious and parasitic diseases, including covid-19 (20, 8%), according to the latest report from the National Statistics Institute (INE) for last December.
The fear of contagion is causing many patients have delayed or canceled their regular check-ups, which means, sometimes, a delay in the diagnosis of new diseases. Specifically, during the COVID-19 crisis, diagnoses of new tumors have decreased between 30% and 40%.
All of it directly affects the population with oncological diseases, the management of tumors, survival, psychological well-being and the quality of life of the patient. A delay in a cancer diagnosis may mean that the tumor is detected in a more advanced stage and, therefore, increase the chances of metastasis, which means that the cancer cells can spread more damagingly to other organs of the body. body, decrease in diagnoses
In light of the latest data published at the end of December, which shows a 21% decrease in the diagnosis of new cases of cancer between March and June 2020 due to the effect of the pandemic, some experts have reflected, in the World Cancer Day, on the impact of this delay in diagnosis in cancer patients.
In the middle of the third wave of the coronavirus, specialists have affirmed that we will have to wait to know what the global consequences will be, after a year marked by the pandemic. The 21% decrease in new diagnoses is limited to a few very specific months, therefore new studies will be needed to know what the real impact of the pandemic has been, although it is estimated that by the end of the third wave it could reach around 30%.
Experts recall that from March to June, everything stoppedBut in the following months, many people continued to be afraid and avoided leaving their homes and going to hospitals. “Not only in the case of having any symptoms or changes in the body, but they have stopped screening for tumors as prevalent as breast, colon or lung cancer. And the effects of this delay will be known in the future.” , they emphasize. Likewise, according to specialists, clinical trials have also been affected and have had to be reduced.
Therefore, institutions such as the Spanish Society of Radiation Oncology (SEOR) encourages patients to seek consultation at the slightest symptom. Studies show that cancer will affect one in three women and one in two men in their lifetime. In this regard, they assure that “the pandemic is bringing into play two very important approaches in oncology: early diagnosis and consensus in therapeutic decisions.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.