• Dhathri Srungaram

Cancer Treatment During the Pandemic

Updated: Jun 5, 2021


Cancer is a scary word, and it is not an easy thing to hear. Medical care in the United States has changed dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, and cancer treatment is no different. An early cancer diagnosis has a large impact on treatments and likely outcomes for patients. COVID-19 has left many people that might be experiencing symptoms, hesitant to go to the doctor and start treatment early or continue on their existing treatment plan. Especially since chemotherapy (a common cancer treatment that uses drugs to try and kill the fast-growing, cancerous cells), can weaken the immune system. This makes patients more susceptible to COVID-19, and more likely to suffer from more severe symptoms than the general population.



In 2020 alone, more than 1.8 million people in the United States were diagnosed with cancer, these are new cancer patients, receiving their first diagnosis. And in the same year, more than 600,000 people died from cancer.


Cancer is a leading cause of death in the United States, second only to heart disease. Doctors at the Mayo Clinic advise patients to continue to seek cancer care and treatment during the pandemic. Cancer treatment is especially dependent on patients and providers sticking to strict schedules regarding certain therapies and surgeries, so discontinuing care during the pandemic can be especially harmful, especially since an earlier diagnosis is important to developing an effective treatment plan.


Over the past year, there has been a decrease in the number of people coming in for routine cancer screenings. Cancer screening is not elective care and should not be delayed because of the pandemic.



Hospitals and healthcare providers everywhere are striving to ensure safe visits for all patients and the Mayo Clinic team stresses that they will be taking further precautions to ensure that cancer patients are safe. If anyone is due for a cancer screening, they should reach out to their healthcare provider. Apprehensions regarding the COVID-19 pandemic can be addressed by your provider, and they can explain what safety measures they are taking to help protect staff and patients. Routine cancer screening should not be delayed.

 

Speaking Plainly:

  • In 2020 alone more than 1.8 million people in the United States were diagnosed with cancer.

  • Over the past year, there has been a decrease in the number of people coming in for routine cancer screenings because of COVID concerns.

  • Cancer screening is not elective care and should not be delayed because of the pandemic.

  • Healthcare providers are taking steps to ensure that patients and staff stay COVID safe by implementing social distancing, limiting the number of patients in the waiting room, limiting the number of family members that can accompany patients to treatment, and more.