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Full impact of COVID-19 pandemic on cancer treatment unknown, according to GlobalData

World Cancer Day (4 February 2021) is aiming to address systemic weaknesses exacerbated by pandemic

It is still too early to assess the full impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on both cancer treatment and development, according to GlobalData.

Although there are still many unknowns in relation to the effect of the pandemic on cancer treatment and research, a number of barriers have arisen for patients seeking treatment and care for cancer.

In addition, oncology clinical disruptions continue, with approximately 275 out of 1,000 of these trials (25%) still currently suspended.

On top of that, only 296 out of the 933 oncology trials (32%) that were previously suspended have now resumed operations.

The warning coincides with World Cancer Day (4 February 2021), which is led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

“In the long term, the pandemic may have a number of far-reaching consequences on the cancer treatment landscape due to shortages of medical staff, decreased access to treatment, delays in diagnosis, decreased survival and increases in disease incidence related to COVID-19 infection,” sad Fern Barkalow, oncology and haematology senior director at GlobalData.

For 2021, the World Cancer Day theme – ‘I Am and I Will’ – aims to highlight the new opportunities, created by the pandemic, to address the systemic weaknesses in national health systems across the globe.

COVID-19 has been found to threaten the progress of cancer research and treatment, with a survey conducted by UICC with over 100 of its member organisations revealing that income and organisational activities are under significant pressure.

Further testimonies from UICC members further confirm the difficulties for cancer organisations in maintaining life-saving services.

This is due to a decrease in resources as well as social distancing measures enacted to control the spread of COVID-19.

According to UICC, reports highlighted exacerbated shortages in frontline staff, interruptions and delays in prevention programmes as well as diagnostics and testing.

Delays in clinical trials and research as well as greater barriers to essential medicine access in low- and middle-income countries have also been reported.

“It appears quite certain that disruptions to cancer services in the past year will lead to diagnosis at later stages, which in turn will translate into higher cancer-related mortality,” said Anil D’Cruz, president of UICC and director of Oncology at Apollo Hospitals in India.

“Worse still, the wider economic impact of the pandemic on cancer care in all probability will be felt for many years to come, even in high-income countries – in low- and middle-income countries, the impact is unfathomable,” he added.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

4th February 2021

From: Healthcare

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