Experts from Canada and the UK have revealed that delaying cancer treatment by just a month can lead patients to a greater risk of death due to the disease. This is a new study, which has raised alarm against deferred cancer treatment due to the COVID19 pandemic. Health experts have raised their concern saying that such delays take place in normal times as well, but the COVID19 pandemic has led to an exceptional disruption of healthcare services. Researchers who have been involved in the study have said that a delay in cancer treatments such as surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy for seven types of cancers can affect the mortality rate of the patients. The findings of the study have been published in the medical journal of BMJ.
The co-author of the study has said that no other study has looked at all the evidence on the effect of delays in different types of treatments and how it affects the patients. This study has been conducted by experts at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine. The author of the study has said that such delays are happening since the pandemic has hit the world and we need to know its real impact as well. The research has shown that even a month delay in cancer treatment can shoot up the risk of dying from six to 13 percent among the patients. They have said that death risk keeps increasing as cancer treatment keeps delaying. The co-author of the study has said that in most of the major cancers there is no safe delay in the treatment. The findings of this study have been based on dozens of international studies.
Experts have calculated that a delay of 12 weeks in surgery for all the breast cancer patients during the pandemic lockdown has led to 1400 additional deaths in the UK. It has resulted in 6100 excess deaths in the US, 700 additional deaths in Canada, and 500 more deaths in Australia. Amid the pandemic, many hospitals have been forced to withdraw non-emergency procedures due to the risk of infection. Experts have said that in the UK, some procedures have been tagged as safe to be postponed by 10 to 12 weeks such as colorectal surgery. The study suggests that it can shoot up the risk of premature death by 20 percent. A delay of 10 to 12 weeks in bowel cancer chemotherapy can shoot up the risk of death by 44 percent among the patients. The study has confirmed that a month delay in cancer surgery will raise the chances of death by 6 to 8 percent. The findings of the new study have taken the data of treatments for bladder, breast, colon, lungs, and cervix cancers from 34 other studies.