Since the COVID-19 epidemic began, health professionals everywhere have been worrying about one particular phenomenon linked to the health crisis: the deterioration of the health of some patients with various other diseases and conditions as a result of a delay in care and treatment.
More specifically? Postponing certain treatments and other forms of care in hospitals out of fear of more COVID-19 cases. Many people are worried about the long term affects of less care or delays in treatment for people suffering from certain diseases and illnesses such as chronic diseases and cancers.
COVID-19: A 2-5% increase in cancer deaths expected over the next 5 years
In order to determine what kind of impacts the epidemiccould have on cancer patients in particular, the Gustave Roussy Institute in France developed a mathematical simulation model, the results of which were presented at the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Virtual Congress 2020.
The results of their study showed that a delay in diagnosing some patients and treating others could lead to a 2-5% increase in cancer deaths over the next 5 years, which is expected, in the UK at least, to equate to around 4,000-8,000 more deaths by 2025.
Gustave Roussy Institute said in a statement released in September:
This increased risk could also increase again in the event of a second wave.
And of course, we are now currently experiencing the second wave, making the situation even worse.
Cancer: the important of not delaying care and treatment
In light of the current situation, the risks of a higher mortality rate for cancer patients could even reach 4.6%.
Aurélie Bardet, statistician in charge of the study, said in an article published by Rose Magazine:
It appears that the recent scenario was still too optimistic since, nowadays, not only is the pandemic getting worse, but we have not even managed to recover the flow and routine with the patients that we treated before. That means that not only did all of our already diagnosed patients return to start or continue their treatments, but we haven’t managed to diagnose patients who would have since been diagnosed.
To limit this possible loss as much as possible, the Gustave Roussy Institute says that, above all else, care should not be postponed, whether this involves screening or receiving treatment. Delays like this could end up being responsible for major changes in the prognosis’ of more advanced stage cancers.