How Has COVID-19 Impacted Cancer Treatment and Research?

Cancer Treatment

The COVID-19 virus caused by the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-COV 2) was announced as a global pandemic in March 2020. The virus emerged from China, which infected millions of people, leading to the downfall of health and the economy worldwide. It severely impacted the various aspects of human life and health and has also had a considerable effect on cancer treatment and its research. As one of the best cancer treatments is available in Mumbai, the doctors claimed that the severity in the cancer patients might arise or increase due to the limitations introduced by the government and medical authorities. 

A Few Major Challenges Faced by Cancer Care

  • Delay in Diagnosis

The COVID-19 pandemic has interrupted the process of cancer care adversely. Cancer care has faced delays in diagnosis, follow-ups, surgical procedures, and patient care. The doctors claimed that it became difficult to conduct the cancer treatment and COVID-19 treatment simultaneously. As the cases were rising in India, most government cancer centers were converted to COVID-19 treatment centers. The divergence of the workforce also led to difficulties in treating cancer patients timely. In addition, the nationwide lockdown restricted cancer patients from traveling to the centers for chemotherapies and follow-ups. 

There was a drastic fall in the diagnosis of cancer in patients worldwide. As the very first step of cancer is a diagnosis, and delay in the same due to the outbreak of the virus had a severe impact on the patients. Many hospitals and cancer care units chose to delay the cancer treatment to eliminate the spread of Coronavirus. The Government in various countries also imposed restrictions on screening and suggested considering the same as low priority. 

The diagnosis was adversely impacted as the medical professionals required deep knowledge to understand the symptoms of the deadly combination of COVID-19 and cancer. The similar diagnosis of radiographs in COVID-19 and cancer mislead doctors in making precise diagnoses. Due to the diversion of medical staff towards COVID-19 treatment, the communication between the patients and oncologists was also reduced. This again led to a delay in the screening of the disease.   Also, read the best kidney treatment article.

  • Delay in Treatment

The Coronavirus can adversely affect cancer patients due to the low immunity against SARS-COV 2.  The concerning factors for the cancer treatment were the delay in diagnosing, treatment, surgeries, routine procedures, and the threat of infection. Doctors faced a little difficulty choosing the cancer treatment, considering the threats involved due to COVID-19. The patients with ongoing procedures of chemotherapy & radiotherapy were also at a major risk of disease advancement due to the delay caused by the traveling limitations and vulnerability to the virus. The capacity for surgeries was also decreased as medical facilities were diverted towards the COVID-19 treatment facilities. Doctors preferred treating patients with chemotherapy and oral therapy as hospitalization is required. However, it can negatively affect the patient leading to the progression of the disease or emergency hospitalization.

The combination of COVID-19 and cancer pressurized doctors to study the various threats caused to patients suffering from both COVID-19 and cancer. The treatment of COVID-19 and cancer can intervene with each other leading to adverse complications. Another concerning factor for doctors is to decrease the possibility of transmission of Coronavirus after the surgery due to the patient’s immunocompromised state.  The advancement of disease in the patient was alarming for the doctors due to the delay in the surgeries. Few cases can be delayed, but on the other hand, few cases need immediate treatments. Medical workers faced enormous pressure in following the preventive measures and new tools to reduce the risk of transmission of the virus.   

The doctors in Mumbai hospitals try to provide the best cancer treatment in Mumbai. However, these doctors struggled with increasing COVID-19 cases and a huge backlog of cancer patients and their treatments. Due to the national lockdown, patients visiting the cancer facilities after the ease of restrictions were noticed to have signs of advanced disease. Similarly, the same signs were noticed in the patients not getting treatment due to the backlog. 

  • Disruption in Research

Not only were diagnosis and treatment impacted due to the outbreak of the virus, the research and clinical trials were also suspended or postponed. The major reason for this could be the lack of funding as major agencies canceled the funds’ disbursal. The government also suggested not initiating any new trials shortly. 

The focus of pharmaceutical companies and medical professionals was diverted towards the treatment of COVID-19, leading to the disruption of clinical trials and developments. Furthermore, due to the nationwide lockdown, there was a delay in the training and learning of students at various levels. 

Conclusion

There has been an adverse impact on cancer care due to the outbreak of COVID-19. It is likely to have a long-term impact on the patients caused due to the delay in diagnosis and treatment. The cancer care units providing the best treatment in Mumbai suggested the organization of facilities in a way that it can protect the cancer patients and efficiently resume the services. The capacity of diagnosis and surgeries should also increase in the long run to eliminate the backlog and advancement of the disease. An extensive policy is required to provide intense care along with the reduction in the transmission of the virus.

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