Wednesday 27 January 2021

Thousands may have undiagnosed cancer, other serious diseases, pathologists say


Thousands of people in the Netherlands maybe walking around with undiagnosed serious diseases because coronavirus has made them less likely to ask for help, according to new research published on Thursday.

The shortfall in expected diagnoses, first noted during the first wave, has not yet been eradicated, pathologists say. They describe the figures, based on an analysis of pre-pandemic diagnoses rates, as ‘alarming’.

‘We had hoped that after the end of the first lockdown we would undergo a catch-up process,’ Jos Bart, chairman of the Dutch association for pathology NVVP, told broadcaster NOS. ‘The figures show there has been a delayed recovery to normal levels, but the shortfall remains.’

In total, 10% to 15% fewer cases of serious disease have been identified than in recent years, the NVVP says. Adults and children are equally affected.

In particular, pathologists report a 25% drop in the number of people taking part in population-based screenings for cervical, colon and breast cancer.

The number of skin cancer diagnoses are down and there have been fewer breast and prostate biopsies. Pathologists also see a drop in cases of celiac disease and chronic inflammatory diseases of the gastrointestinal system.

The risk to health from not coming forward can be great, Bart said. ‘It is important that people who have complaints continue to visit their family doctor,’ he said.

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