As some patients avoid routine medical care amid the coronavirus pandemic, Dignity Health thoracic surgeon Dr. Costanzo DiPerna warned that a “massive wave” of cancer could be on the horizon. As reported by Breitbart, DiPerna made the dire warning during a Tuesday interview with California Public Radio.
“Many patients are concerned about coming to visit us, to be screened for cancer, to be surveilled for their previous cancers we’ve taken out,” he said.
“What I’m concerned about right now, not just for lung cancer but for all cancers, is are there patients out there that don’t want to come in because they’re afraid of getting COVID-19?”
If patients are avoiding critical checkups like CAT scans, colonoscopies, and mammograms, DiPerna warned the results could be devastating.
“Then in two years we’re hit with this massive wave of patients that are all at a later stage of essentially incurable cancers.”
According to DiPerno, many patients are avoiding hospitals due to a fear of coronavirus exposure. In particular, he claims to have spoken with many cancer patients and attempted to reassure them that hospital experiences should not pose a significant risk of coronavirus exposure.
Research from the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) suggests that many cancer patients could die early due to suspended surgeries, The Guardian reported. Clare Turnbull, a professor of cancer genomics at the ICR, claims that some cancer patients are unaffected by surgery delays, while others would likely die earlier. For example, Turnbull said that for people with stage one to three cancers, surgery delays could push some of them from the “cure” to the “non-cure” category.
“And the longer you delay, the greater the proportion will be,” she said.
Conversely, Turnbull claimed that people with prostate cancer would likely not be affected by delays of a few months.
DiPerna and Turnbull are not the only ones sounding the alarm on the possible adverse effects of the pandemic, which has thrown most of the world into isolation. On Friday, hundreds of physicians signed a letter delivered by the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) to Vice President Mike Pence and the coronavirus task force. In the letter, the group urged the reopening of United States businesses and schools and suggested a failure to do so would negatively impact the health of millions on Americans.
As reported by STAT News, the World Health Organization recently warned of the coronavirus-induced disruption of vaccination problems, which could put approximately 80 million babies at risk of contracting dangerous diseases like polio, measles, and diphtheria.