Even though the entire world has been gripped by the effects of COVID-19, there is one disease that has run rampant long before the pandemic and will continue to do so long after it has finished: Cancer.
Cancer is unforgiving and, while it may not be a contagious virus, the fatality rates are far above that of the coronavirus. It is for this reason why, if you experience symptoms of cancer, you must get checked by a medical professional as soon as possible.
At the time of writing, there have been just under 800,000 confirmed deaths related to COVID-19 around the world. In contrast, it is estimated by the American Cancer Society that there will be just over 600,000 cancer deaths in 2020 in the United States of America alone.
That statistic drums home the importance of ensuring that cancer care is not forgotten about in the age of COVID-19, with that number only going to rise as more and more treatments are postponed and fewer are forthcoming with symptoms. It is completely understandable that, with so many precautions in place and the message of only taking essential travel, the desire to book an appointment with a doctor is not there over something likely to turn out to be nothing.
But what if it is something? If it is, and it goes undiagnosed, that does not mean that you do not have cancer. That only means that you are not recognized as having cancer, so while the cancer continues to grow and spread, you are none the wiser until it may be too late.
Your Doctor Wants to See You
There will never be a doctor who will accuse you of wasting their time if you come in with any possible symptom, such as a lump, only to be told that you have nothing to worry about. The doctor would much rather tell you this news than ask why you didn’t come in sooner when you are diagnosed with advanced cancer. Your health comes first, always.
The earlier any cancer is diagnosed, the better chance of survival you have. Doctors want to be able to refer you to a specialist as early as possible with the opportunity to decide on the best form of treatment for you. With treatments as varied as chemotherapy, radiotherapy, proton beam therapy and immunotherapy among others, your consultant will be able to talk you through each of the options and make an informed recommendation based on your specific type of cancer.
The Impact of COVID-19
The impact to cancer care as a result of the virus looks set to be immense, with the NCI’s Ned Sharpless noting deferred treatments likely reversing drops in mortality rates. There has never been a time quite like this, which is why it is even more important than ever to seek medical help at the first opportunity.
We have to do everything that we can to keep the damaging effects of this horrible disease to a minimum because, once the coronavirus has been and gone (with or without a viable vaccine), cancer will remain with us for years to come. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms, please book an appointment with a doctor as soon as possible.
The chances are that you will be told you have nothing to worry about but, equally, doing so might just save your life.
COVID-19 has changed the world in ways that are unprecedented. Social distancing, PPE protocols, and warnings from health authorities such as the CDC have led to many avoiding contact with others as much as possible—and understandably so. While prudent in helping reduce the spread of COVID-19, these protocols may lead to some foregoing pertinent actions such as screenings for major illness such as Cancer or cardiovascular disease.