The coronavirus is expected to cause 10,000 more cancer deaths in the United States. USA

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The current COVID-19 pandemic is likely to cause at least 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancer over the next decade in the United States, according to one of the country’s leading voices on cancer.

“There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic is causing late diagnosis and suboptimal care for people with cancer,” wrote Norman “Ned” Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI), in an editorial published in the Science magazine.

The NCI and other model groups predict that delays in the detection and diagnosis of breast and colorectal cancers will likely lead to a 1% increase in deaths until 2030.

“For these two types of cancer, we believe the pandemic will influence cancer deaths for at least a decade,” Sharpless said at a recent virtual joint meeting of the Scientific Advisory Board and the National Cancer Advisory Board.

“I find this worrying since cancer mortality is common. Even a 1% increase every decade is a lot of cancer suffering. And this analysis, frankly, is quite conservative. We do not consider other types of cancer other than breast and colon cancer, but there are many reasons to believe that the pandemic will also affect other types of cancer. We did not take into account the additional non-lethal morbidity of the staging, but this could also be significant and costly. ”

Sharpless also noted that the increased fear of becoming infected with COVID-19 in healthcare settings has significantly reduced the number of mammograms and colonoscopies that can identify tumors at earlier, more treatable stages.

Many medical facilities have responded by instituting strict precautionary measures that could reduce the potential for infection. Patients are often examined when they arrive for appointments and are given facial masks. The number of patients in waiting rooms is also often limited.

In the United States, more than 41,000 people die of breast cancer each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. That annual number climbs to 52,000 for colorectal cancer.

“Ignoring non-COVID-19 life-threatening conditions like cancer for too long can turn a public health crisis into many others,” Sharpless wrote. “Let’s avoid that result.”

In addition, the pandemic has slowed important cancer research, including trials examining new treatments.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Minneapolis-based Science and Technology editor who has published on Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him at LinkedIn.

Image: Reuters.

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