Cancer is an extremely 'time-sensitive disease in which a delay in diagnosis and surgery can nullify the hope of recovery.
In the last two years, screening initiatives and early diagnosis have faced a setback due to the pandemic, impacting the health of people and above all that of the chronically ill people who are dealing with pre-existing diseases, especially those who are diagnosed with oncological diseases.
The pandemic has contributed to complications in already compromised clinical departments and has weakened the efficacy of therapies, hampering the quality and life expectancy of the patients.
For instance, due to pandemic quotas, only fewer patients with small tumors arrived for the treatments compared to those with more advanced stages of the disease. This has directly worsened the situation to treat the tumors.
As per data, collected from hospitals and general practitioners in recent months, there are fewer diagnostic activities; 50% to 80% mainly caused due to the unavailability of intensive care units in the hospitals, that were occupied by COVID patients.
Cancer is a 'time-sensitive' disease in which a delay in diagnosis or a delay in surgery can mean the loss of the possibility of recovery. If the treatments for COVID patients are enhanced, such as by providing home care, etc., it will ensure the availability of hospital services to oncology patients.
This early home care service for COVID patients should include a multidisciplinary approach between local doctors and hospital specialists. Apart from this, places for vaccination hubs can be identified that will involve retired doctors or military doctors instead of hospital doctors.
Understanding the time sensitivity for oncological treatments could lead to an improvement in the logistical development and planning of interventions with the aim to make hospitals available for cancer patients. Whereas, COVID patients can be treated effectively in an out-of-hospital setting, unless, of course, in the case where the condition is not severe.
In this way, we can definitely reduce the damage caused by the last two years and ensure the possibility of timely and effective treatment for cancer patients.
This article by Dr. Antonio Giordano was also published in Italian for La Voce Di New York, here's the link.
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