Monday 08 March 2021

See a doctor with cancer symptoms, researchers urge, as diagnoses fall


A combination of late referrals caused by delayed visits to family doctors and the temporary halting of screening programmes during the first wave of coronavirus has caused a drop in the number of diagnoses of colon and breast cancer, cancer centre IKNL reports.

Despite the restart of the population screenings for the two cancers, the expected outcomes are still lower by some 2,000 diagnoses for breast cancer  and 1,000 for colon cancer, research figures quoted by the centre show.

Fear of contagion with coronavirus motivated many to delay visits but, the researchers say, people should not ignore call-ups for screening programmes and people with symptoms should see their doctor.

Screening will detect cancer in its early stages and doctors expect the delay of some months will not have serious consequences for most patients, the centre said. It is unclear, however, if the delay in diagnoses of cancer in the spring has resulted in the late detection of cancer in advanced stages requiring more intensive treatment.

In order to deal with the backlog, screening programmes and possible subsequent referrals to hospitals will not be interrupted again during the second wave of the virus, the centre said.

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