Saturday, May 14, 2022

Covid could be responsible for a future health-care crisis — not catching cancers early enough

The Covid pandemic has dramatically disrupted cancer screenings, putting thousands of lives in danger.

That's the conclusion of a recent story by Dylan Scott on the website.

Dr. Steve Serrao
The article quotes Dr. Steve Serrao, chief of gastroenterology and hepatology at Riverside University Health System in Loma Linda, California, as predicting that "the delayed diagnoses of various cancers and other chronic, life-threatening illnesses…will be the next crisis that overwhelms the U.S. health system."

In regard to the possible surge of advanced chronic diseases, Serrao says, "I don't think our systems are ready."

According to Scott's story, the pandemic "dealt a crushing blow to the preventive services that can catch potential health problems before they become life-threatening."

The piece cites figures from 2020, the most recent year for which complete statistics are available, that show colonoscopies dropped by nearly half from the year before, prostate biopsies fell more than 25 percent, and new diagnoses over all "declined by 13 percent to 23 percent, depending on the cancer."

Dr. Brian Englum
The story also quotes Dr. Brian Englum, a University of Maryland surgeon who co-authored a new study in "Cancer," an American Cancer Society journal, as saying that "I think we are in uncharted territory. There are no examples I know of where we have seen numbers change this dramatically."

Just how bad is the situation? Scott contends that "even a four-week delay in treatment is associated with a 6 to 13 percent higher risk of death."

He also maintains that research has shown that "people who have skipped appointments or didn't get screenings or care may be less likely to seek it in the future, and the problems could compound."

Englum says that while "we've already lost a lot of people," nobody knows "how many of these cases are out there."

More information about waves of disease can be found in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book that I, Woody Weingarten, aimed at male caregivers.

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