Covid scans a blessing for some, enable early cancer detection

Early diagnosis, especially of lung cancer, improves patients’ chances of recovery 

Published: 23rd August 2021 03:36 AM  |   Last Updated: 23rd August 2021 03:36 AM   |  A+A-

Cancer, CT Scan, Xray

According to experts, lung cancers are difficult to identify in the initial stages, and by the time the symptoms appear the disease would be in advanced stages.

Express News Service

KOCHI: While the Covid pandemic forced several cancer patients to forgo follow-up treatment and suffered because of delayed diagnosis, it was a blessing in disguise for some. In certain cases, scans — done as part of Covid treatment — ‘accidentally’ revealed the onset of lung cancers, which were then treated successfully. 

According to experts, lung cancers are difficult to identify in the initial stages, and by the time the symptoms appear the disease would be in advanced stages. In one such ‘accidental’ diagnosis, a CT scan on an 84-year-old Kochi woman, who tested positive for Covid in July, revealed a tumour in her lungs. 

A biopsy found that it was cancerous. “Since the lung cancer was identified in its initial stages, we were able to treat it without complications. After she recovered from Covid, a surgery was conducted and she was discharged within weeks,” said Dr Nasser Yusuf, a cardiothoracic surgeon. He said, in the wake of the Covid outbreak, six to seven cases of early lung cancers were detected in patients. 

“It is a blessing to identify lung cancers in the early stages, as most cases are identified only in the advanced stages. If the lung cancer is found at an early stage, when it is small and before it spreads, then it is more likely to be treated successfully. In the advanced stages, it leads to many complications,” Dr Nasser said. 

In another instance, a 55-year-old Kasaragod resident who contracted Covid was diagnosed with Stage II lung cancer. According to the doctors who treated him, he was a non-smoker and did not show any discomfort or symptoms before the coronavirus infection. The pandemic has affected cancer screening, paving the way to aggravate or worsen its spread and allied complications. 

Due to the lockdown and the fear of contracting Covid, many stayed back at home and missed their routine follow-ups and diagnosis. In major hospitals in the state, lung cancers have recorded a 10-15% rise after the lockdown. 

“In advanced cases of cancer, there won’t be much for the doctors or surgeons to do. In some cases, the delay in diagnosis due to symptoms of infection or long-term effects of smoking worsen the condition. Early detection is the key to treating cancers. Lung cancer still occupies the top position among cancers in Kerala,” said a specialist with the Cochin Cancer Research Centre.


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