Hospitals worldwide brace for escalation of cancer cases

As countries end lockdowns and coronavirus-related restrictions gradually lift, hospitals are expecting to see an influx of cancer patients who may have delayed their care as the pandemic spread across the world, Bloomberg reports.

Cancer screenings and treatment fell globally, with the U.K., U.S., Spain and other countries reporting sharp drops. In the U.K., urgent hospital referrals for suspected cancer fell 60 percent in April, a Cancer Research UK analysis of National Health Service data shows. Similarly, routine cancer screenings fell 86 percent to 94 percent in the U.S. in March, according to Bloomberg.

Research shows that cancer survival rates in countries around the world are likely to drop due to delays in care as healthcare organizations race to keep up with the surge in COVID-19 patients.

And if cases continue to rise unabated by a vaccine or medical treatment, the backlog of cancer patients needing care will be even greater.

"Clinicians have to make decisions about what's the greater risk: bringing someone into hospital and they might get coronavirus, or leaving them for three weeks, three months, and what will happen in the intervening time in terms of their cancer progressing," Genevieve Edwards, head of Bowel Cancer U.K., told Bloomberg.

Hospitals in countries like Italy and U.K. are trying to deal with the issue by creating cancer hubs, where patients can receive therapy away from coronavirus patients.

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More articles on oncology: 
Enrollment in clinical trials for cancer dropped as COVID-19 cases rose, study shows
Premature cancer deaths among racial minorities cost US economy millions, study shows
Affiliates of top cancer hospitals have lower survival rates, study finds



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