One of the major concerns of health professionals dedicated to oncology is the drastic decrease in diagnoses of new cancer cases during the period of confinement to which the population was subjected under the pandemic. In CUF hospitals, the largest national private cancer diagnostics, the reduction in cancer diagnoses was around 80%, only in March and April.
Serious is that this does not mean that the number of cases has decreased, only that the diagnosis was not made, because there were many people who for fear have not been to the doctor in recent months. This reality may, in the medium term, lead to the diagnosis of the disease at more advanced stages, with less probability of disease control. In the long term it may condition a higher mortality from cancer.
Early detection of the disease is therefore essential for a favorable prognosis, for the type of treatment and also for reducing the lethality rates associated with each type of cancer. It is imperative to act and create conditions so that the population can quickly and effectively have access to the means necessary to carry out a diagnosis, which will trigger the treatment process, thus allowing a better prognosis of the disease. Facilitated access to physicians and complementary means of diagnosis will allow a higher probability of success in the disease control process.
Cancer diagnosis and treatment is urgent and cannot wait. In some faster-growing tumors, waiting three or four weeks can mean a significant reduction in the possibility of cure. People should keep in mind that if they have a persistent symptom, they should see their doctor.
At CUF Oncology, for example, we reinforced the Green Diagnostic Pathways in all our hospitals between July 1 and 15. This action, called “Today is not too late”, will allow enhanced access to the Green Pathways for Cancer Diagnosis of Breast Cancer, Colorectal Cancer, Lung Cancer and Prostate Cancer.
It is important to understand the importance of regular screening, from a certain age or in the face of family history. In some neoplasms, such as breast cancer, one of the most frequent tumors in females, annual screening even allows the detection of lesions that are not yet palpable. It is also worth mentioning the symptoms that everyone should be aware of: unintentional weight loss, malaise, constant fatigue, a lump or a mass that palpates, or even changes in bowel habits.
It is natural that in the confinement phase people were afraid to go to hospitals, however, and after these months, it is necessary to continue to convey a message of safety in relation to the conditions created to welcome those in need of medical care. The installation of the epidemic in Portugal motivated the need to create its own circuits for cancer patients; establishment of safety procedures for carrying out complementary diagnostic means, without compromising the safety of patients and healthcare professionals. Under the guidelines ed by the General Directorate of Health, oncology services have reorganized.
The path of cancer patients in all stages of their disease was delineated: diagnosis, staging, treatment and follow-up. The circuits of cancer patients have been adapted to ensure maximum safety.
In the presence of persistent symptoms do not wait. The earlier the cancer is diagnosed, the more likely it is to be treated and cured. It should not devalue any warning sign or deny its existence.
Be sure to seek medical help, because health units are able to receive, diagnose and treat patients in complete safety.
Don’t postpone your appointment, because it’s not too late today.