Doctors flag missed cancer diagnosis as public put off screening

The pandemic has affected cancer care, as access became an issue. Now, even though things are getting better, people are still hesitant to come for screening, say doctors.

Published: 04th February 2022 09:54 AM  |   Last Updated: 04th February 2022 09:54 AM   |  A+A-


Image used for representational purpose only.

Express News Service

TIRUCHY: When Covid-19 slammed our healthcare system and knocked it down like a feather, it overwhelmingly affected the cancer treatment process.

The pandemic has affected cancer care, as access became an issue. Now, even though things are getting better, people are still hesitant to come for screening, say doctors.

"Screening has been significantly affected due to Covid-19. People are not coming for elective screening, as they think that it is not very urgent. Unless we do screening, we cannot detect pre-malignant cases or do early diagnosis. The effect of this will be seen only after two years when we see patients, who might come in their advanced stages," said Dr G Govindaraj, Managing Director, Harshamitra Super Speciality Cancer Centre & Research Institute.

Doctors said that lockdown is also an issue for people coming from faraway places.

This year's theme for World Cancer Day, which is celebrated on February 4, is 'Close the Care Gap'. The theme has been chosen to raise awareness about the equity gap that affects almost everyone, in high as well as low and middle-income countries, costing lives.

Dr S Suresh Kumar, Associate Professor of Department of Medical Oncology, Mahatma Gandhi Memorial Government Hospital (MGMGH), Tiruchy, said, "The theme for Cancer Day this year is to reduce the cancer care gap. We need to provide affordable and accessible care. Access was largely affected during the first and second wave of the pandemic."

Dr Balaji Ramani, Senior Consultant, Department of Surgical Oncology, MGM Healthcare, said, "We will know the impact of this in three to four years down the line. Whatever could have been diagnosed early, might advance later. Follow-ups are also down; even regular patients are not coming for follow-ups."

Doctors are worried if patients don't come for follow-ups, it might lead to cancer relapse. People are hesitating to come due to the pandemic risks, they added.

Doctors have asked people to go for regular check-ups and get consulted if they notice any significant change. "People should be aware of themselves and their bodies. One must be able to detect changes such as lumps in the breasts, or lumps anywhere else. We are seeing an increase in breast cancer cases. If detected early, the treatment becomes easy," said Dr Ratna Devi, Radiation Oncologist, Apollo Cancer Centre.


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