Covid-19 outbreak leads to dangerous delay in cancer diagnosis

Decreases in mammograms and other screening procedures after a coronavirus epidemic strikes can lead to missed and delayed cancer diagnoses, according to statistics from insurance claims, lab orders, Medicare billings, and oncology-practice records.

Starting this spring, the U.S. Hundreds of thousands of cancer screenings were postponed following concerns about the healthcare system Kovid-19. Because many cancers can progress quickly, months can mean bad results, including fewer treatment options and more results without being discovered.

“There’s almost no way that won’t turn into rising mortality,” said Norman EA, with more than a decade to go. “Ned” Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute. About 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colon cancer alone could occur in the next 10 years in the care of missed screening and other epidemic-related effects, the NCI estimated earlier this year. Dr. Sharpless said the estimate now seems low.

Cancer-care provider 21st Century Oncology, which has 300 locations around the US, said about 18% of its newly diagnosed breast cancer patients had an advanced stage of the disease during August this year, compared to 12% overall in 2019. From 2015 to 2019, the share of her breast-cancer cases seen at an advanced stage ranged from 11% to 12.5%. The provider has also seen a higher proportion of its lung cancer patients with more advanced stages of the disease this year.

“It’s distressing as a therapist,” said Constantine Montez, chief policy officer for 21st Century Oncology, a unit of the Australian-based company Genesis.

Preliminary data on cancer concerns below that the negative health effects of coronavirus extend well from the direct effects of Covid-19. This year, a series of deaths in medical conditions ranging from Alzheimer’s disease to heart attacks – reflecting the epidemics and stagnant medical care stress in what physicians and researchers say – is higher than in previous years.

Richard Wehmer died of lung cancer this September, a month after his Stage-4 diagnosis was confirmed. The computerized tomography scan found a small, potentially cancerous nodule in his right lung a year ago, and at that time he was asked to have another scan in three to six months.

Richard Wehmeyer in 2011.


Kim Wehmer

Mr. Wehmer, 70, a respiratory therapist, J. Nolensville, Tenn. Lived in, never made a follow-up appointment. His son, Nick, and the oncologist who treated him, Todd Bauer of Tennessee Oncology, said they did not want to risk exposure to the coronavirus after it emerged this spring, partly because their sons have compromised the immune system. After coughing up blood, he went to a hospital in August and learned that small nodules had grown into metastatic disease.

“I wish he would have preferred it,” said Nick Wehmeyer, who lives in New York but stayed with his father in Tennessee this spring. The cancer was “not caught until it passed the tipping point.”

Data from Lab Giant Quest Diagnostics Inc.

This spring has seen a rapid decline in the number of newly-discovered cases of some types of cancer. The average weekly number of newly diagnosed breast cancer patients fell by about 52% compared to pre-epidemic figures in March and early April. Harvey Kaufman, senior medical director at Quest, said the missing group meant there could be many patients with diagnosed cases.

“Cancer doesn’t stop,” he said.

In March, U.S. As the healthcare system stopped performing routine procedures, the number of cancer screenings decreased, according to insurers, electronic medical records, and patient survey statistics. Personal visits have been suspended at many clinics. Some people, frightened by the virus, decided to stop the checkup. Others want to avoid patients, doctors’ offices and hospitals.

William Cancer, chief medical and scientific officer of the American Cancer Society, said there would be a delay in the diagnosis, and there would be more advanced cancer.

Claims leveled by researchers at the United Health Group Inc.,

Parents of the largest health insurers in the U.S. have seen a 95% drop in mammograms in the second week of April compared to the same week in previous years. Screening resumed later in the summer, although it only returned to normal.

Danin Wojta, executive vice president for global research and development, said researchers have not seen the above common sum that would be expected if all those who missed out on this spring process returned for them at the end of the year and no one else left their mark. Said Danin Wojta, executive vice president of development. At UnitedHealth.

“Clearly no makeup,” he said.

In the first eight months of 2020, the United Health Census found nearly one million fewer mammograms, colorectal and cervical cancers than in the same period last year. The analysis includes approximately 32 million Medicare Advantage and commercial members of UnitedHealth.

Sample Analysis of Medicare Bills by Community Oncology Alliance and Ale Waller Health, a consulting firm owned by Inovolon Inc.,

Releases other signs of detected cancer patients. New patient oncology visits ranged from 29% to 70% in the month of March to July, compared to the same month a year earlier. According to Debra Pota, executive vice president of Texas oncology, biopsies for breast, lung and bowel cancer ranged from 11% to 79% during the study.

Brenda Hudson, a patient in Dr. Patt, Budani, Texas, says her primary care physician asked her to have a mammogram in June, but she waited until August for it to be completed. At the age of cancer, having no family history of breast cancer, she felt that her risk was low and she was scared of coronavirus.

“I am, ‘I’m not ready to live in a lot of medical facilities,'” he said.

The mammogram found a small lump in Mrs Hudson’s right breast and a biopsy confirmed the cancer diagnosis. She will be treated with chemotherapy and lumpetomy, followed by radiation. Dr. Patt said Ms. Hudson’s cancer was growing rapidly and while she had a good prognosis, she would not have needed chemotherapy in June.

Write to Anna Wilde Mathews at [email protected] and Mike Cherney at [email protected]

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