PARIS, France – Delaying cancer treatment by just one month could put patients at a much higher risk of death, according to the latest study published Wednesday, the latest alarming pandemic impact coronavirus for other health conditions.
Delays in treatment occurred in the normal time period, but the spread of COVID-19 has caused unprecedented disruption to health care services.
In a new study published in the medical journal BMJ, researchers in the UK and Canada have found that treatment delays ̵1; whether it’s surgery, radiation or other treatments like chemotherapy – for seven types of cancer that have a significant impact on patient mortality. .
Co-author Ajay Aggarwal, a clinical oncologist and Associate Professor at the London School of Hygiene and Tropicalism, said: “There has never been a systematic effort to review all the evidence of delays in different types of treatment toward the outcome of cancer patients. Medicine.
“Because we know this is happening to cancer patients during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is essential to understand the real impact.”
Research shows that even a one-month delay can mean a patient has a 6 to 13% higher risk of death. The longer it takes to wait for treatment, the higher the risk.
The authors describe the findings, based on dozens of international studies published over the past two decades, as “serious”.
Research shows that “for the majority of major cancers and treatments there are no ‘safe’ treatment delays,” Aggarwal told AFP.
Researchers estimate that delaying surgery for 12 weeks for all breast cancer patients – during COVID-19 blocking, for example, and their consequences, over a year, will result in 1,400 deaths in the UK, 6,100 in the United States, 700 in Canada and 500 in Australia.
EQUALIZE ‘HARD HARD’
Many hospitals with a large initial outbreak of coronavirus are forced to postpone non-emergency procedures to avoid putting patients in danger.
In the UK, researchers say some considered safe conditions can be delayed from 10 to 12 weeks, including all colorectal surgeries.
“Our study shows that’s not the case and may in fact increase the risk of premature death by about 20 percent. Similar delay to chemotherapy for bowel cancer may increase the risk,” Aggarwal said. 44% “chance of death”.
He called for urgent measures to tackle the backlog and to use alternative treatments for patients, such as “shorter but equally effective radiation therapy”.
The researchers based their calculations on an analysis of 34 studies, with data on treatment procedures for bladder, breast, colon, rectum, lung and cervical cancer, as well as head and neck. .
Overall, they found that delaying surgery 4 weeks increased the risk of death by 6 to 8%.
There are even bigger negative effects on the suspension of other treatments, with a four-week postponement of some systemic treatments for colorectal cancer linked to an increase of 13 % mortality risk.
In response to the study, Justin Stebbing, Professor of Medical Oncology and Medical Oncology at Imperial College London, said it is important to balance the COVID-19 risk with those associated with delay. .
He added that the study he co-authored this month in the Journal of the National Cancer Institute found that COVID-19 cancer patients hospitalized had a much higher mortality rate than those without cancer. letters.
“This is a very complex, ongoing and difficult situation because we clearly need to protect vulnerable cancer patients from COVID-19,” he said in comments to the Science Media Center. .
Ongoing research has suggested that the pandemic shutdowns earlier this year saw a drop in the number of emergency room visits due to conditions like heart attacks and strokes, while medical The world economy is alarming the impact of the fight against HIV, malaria and tuberculosis.
In a study published in August in the journal JAMA Network Open, researchers found that the number of cancers diagnosed weekly in the United States fell by almost 50% in March and April compared to the average. recent average.
klm / mh / mbx
© Agence France-Presse
cancer, cancer treatment, death, COVID-19, coronavirus, medicine, health, ANC, chemotherapy, surgery, radiation therapy, pandemic