Cancer prevention and diagnosis helps save the lives of millions of patients around the world every year. However, with the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, countless diagnostic tests in different countries have been canceled or postponed indefinitely. Residents of many countries have lost the opportunity to undergo diagnostic tests – mammography, colonoscopy, etc.
And, as you know, it is the detection of cancer in the early stages that gives the patient the best chance of a cure. Now, scientists and doctors are trying to estimate the scale of how many new cancer cases prevented the pandemic from detecting, and in what percentage of cancer patients the situation has worsened during this time.
“I think the concern about this is understandable. And what [во многих местах] they stopped doing screening tests – colonoscopy, mammography – this really, in theory, can affect the outcomes of the disease in many patients, – said Vadim Gushchin, an oncologist surgeon at the Mercy Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, in an interview with the Russian service of the Voice of America. – However, life goes on, and cancer patients did not disappear anywhere even during the pandemic: we continue to operate on them, they receive chemotherapy, immunotherapy, radiation and radiation therapy. The problem is that it has become more difficult for patients to receive such treatment, it is more difficult to receive support from relatives who are no longer allowed to go to the hospital with them. Patients undergo treatment alone, come to consultations alone, and from all this, of course, they are very uncomfortable. “
Researchers at the University of Cincinnati, Ohio, found that when they resumed regular diagnostics in June, the number of diagnosed patients with suspected cancer jumped from the usual 8 percent to 29 percent. A similar situation has been noted in some other research centers.
“The National Cancer Institute last summer released a forecast that the shutdown of certain areas of the health care system in March, April and June 2020 could cause ten thousand deaths of breast cancer patients and another ten thousand patients with rectal cancer by 2030. And this is in addition to the usual amount. The reason is the postponement and cancellation of diagnostic texts and treatment procedures, ”Otis Broly, a professor at the University of J. Hopkins, told the Associated Press.
Scientists expect that, since such a crisis has occurred, the past year will become a kind of natural experiment in the development of prevention of diseases such as cancer. Meanwhile, the most unexpected but effective initiatives have spread in the United States. For example, in one of the large churches in Philadelphia, Enon Tabernacle, parishioners, most of whom are African Americans, are offered flu shots, as well as free medical kits with tests for bowel cancer, in addition to spiritual help. They determine the presence of blood in the stool of a person and allow detecting the disease at an early stage.
“It is known that African Americans are more likely to die from bowel cancer,” said Carmen Guerra, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania. “Because the Enon Tabernacle Church has a large African American congregation, we have the opportunity to strengthen the fight against cancer in local communities.”
“We tried to do everything with maximum convenience and in a pleasant atmosphere: we invited a DJ, arranged music and a couple of other things to make it more fun,” reverend Father Leroy Miles, pastor of the Anon Tabernacle church, shares his experience. –
People could even just drive up and take the set without getting out of the car. “
Fortunately, for some types of cancer, a delay of several months does not pose a serious threat to sick people. In the Netherlands, for example, it has been found that a sharp decline in the number of mammograms has not yet led to an increase in the number of cases of breast cancer diagnosed.
Nevertheless, a speedy return to the normal volume of diagnostic tests, experts say, is the surest way to save the lives of many patients.