Telangana: With wards overwhelmed, cancer cases turning | Live Newspaper Hyderabad

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HYDERABAD: Delay in routine treatment and check-ups for cancer patients due to a surge in Covid-19 cases is turning fatal for many patients, experts said. While many are said to postponing sessions over fears of contracting Covid-19, city doctors said that overwhelmed patient wards and intensive care units are also said to be one of the reasons why prevention, early detection, and intervention efforts have been delayed.
Telangana has around 20,000 new cancer cases, including 5,000 head and neck cancer patients who need regular care. Telangana’s cancer caseload is around 1 lakh, according to modest estimates.
“Almost all surgeries of cancer patients have been postponed from the second week of April. They don’t want to risk coming to hospitals amid the pandemic,” said Dr K Sreekanth, senior surgical oncologist, Yashoda Hospitals adding the case is similar with patients taking chemotherapy, radiation, among others as they too are cancelling sessions.
Oncologists said that even during the first wave many cancer patients had postponed their sessions, some even for months together, and when they came back for the treatment they presented with more advanced disease, which is more difficult to treat.
“For cancer patients, the window for cure is narrow. They shouldn’t be postponing their treatment. Unfortunately, about 70-80% are not turning up for their sessions,” said Dr Ajay Chanakya Vallabaneni, Consultant Surgical Oncology & Robotic Surgeon, KIMS Hospital. He pointed that the cancer death mortality rate across the globe is 30% which is far more than Covid 19 infection mortality rate of about 3.5%.
Giving an example of how the delay in treatment can affect cancer patients, Vallabaneni said that a 29-year-old, who was noted to have abreast lump and diagnosed to have early breast cancer, avoided hospital visits and delayed treatment, which resulted in advanced disease with ulceration and lymph nodal involvement making it impossible to conserve her breast and lymph nodes.
Doctors said in many cases, it is attendants or caregivers who are hesitant to continue the patient’s treatment during, and added that even if patients contract the virus, treatment will only be halted for two weeks. They pointed out it is unlikely for cancer patients to come in contact with Covid-19 patients at a hospital as they have separate facilities for patients.

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