The COVID-19 global pandemic is an emergency that we have never seen before in our lifetimes, which requires every one of us to pull together in the same direction to defeat the coronavirus. However, unless action is taken, there will be an even greater health emergency on our hands that won’t be reported on a day-to-day basis and that is the inevitable increase of deaths caused by cancer.
With restrictions being implemented around the world that limit not just our social freedoms, but also our access to potentially life-saving medical care, there is a very real risk of the world sleep walking into a cancer crisis the likes of which we have never seen. Not only are there many examples of treatments being stopped and/or paused, but with less people coming forward with symptoms, because they don’t want to risk going outside and catching the virus, that means many will be going around with undiagnosed cancer.
As we know only too well, the chances of surviving cancer are better the earlier it is diagnosed, so a late diagnosis could be, and very well may be, fatal.
Why Cancer Patients Are at Risk
Cancer patients are at high risk of COVID-19, both directly and indirectly, due to a number of reasons. Many treatments have been put on hold due to the adverse effects it can have on the body’s immune system – with a potentially deadly virus in circulation, healthcare professionals do not want to put their patients at risk.
However, this puts medical professionals and patients between a rock and a hard place, because the treatment that has been paused is being given for the purpose of saving or, at the very least, prolonging life. As more and more treatments are put on hold, the waiting list grows longer and longer, meaning that the effects of the delays are likely to be felt long after the pandemic has subsided.
Treatments that can have an effect on your immune system include MR-linac radiotherapy, chemotherapy and immunotherapy. Cancer patients should speak to their doctor for more information.
Doctors’ Appeal to Patients
Despite the uncertainty in the world right now, doctors are calling out for anyone who discovers a suspected symptom of cancer to get themselves checked. While COVID-19 is the cause of the global health emergency right now, it is important to remember that cancer is far more deadly and needs to be given the respect it deserves. That means not taking any chances when you discover potential symptoms, such as any lumps.
If what you discover turns out to be nothing to worry about, the doctor is not going to be annoyed that you have wasted their time. Do you think that anyone wants to be the person to have to tell someone that they may or, in fact, do have cancer? Of course not. A doctor would much rather tell you that you have nothing to worry about rather than diagnose you with advanced-stage cancer and that there is nothing they can do.
Get Yourself Checked
All that is left is to remind you, or anyone that you may know who has discovered potential symptoms, to get yourself checked. While COVID-19 is a very real threat, you have a much higher chance of surviving the virus than cancer to put things into perspective.
Your doctor will be able to assist you in taking care of any concerns you may have in relation to staying safe from the virus, as well as referring you to a consultant should they feel there is a need for further tests.