We have never lived in such uncertain times. Due to the global pandemic, we are living under tight restrictions that affect all aspects of our lives and, the worst part is, we have no idea when we will once again experience the same level of freedom as we once did. Sports stadia remain largely empty, no concerts for the foreseeable and the warm embrace of a loved one will have to wait for a while yet.
Those are some of the core issues that the majority of us are having to contend with, but can you imagine what it must be like as someone living with cancer? Not being able to attend sporting events or concerts is somewhat put into perspective when you are told that you have a higher chance of dying should you catch COVID-19. Suddenly, not being able to sit in the stands and cheer on your favourite football team doesn’t seem as important.
The Need for Treatment
Cancer patients require regular treatment, decided upon by specialist consultants depending on the type of cancer. While certain types of cancer are best treated using an Elekta Unity Radiotherapy Machine, others call for chemotherapy and immunotherapy treatments. However, many treatments have an adverse effect on the immune system, leaving the body at heighted risk of infection which, in the middle of a pandemic, is a risk that many medical professionals would rather not take.
However, patients are not referred for treatment for the sake of it – they are admitted to save their lives. This leaves consultants and patients in an immensely difficult position, especially as postponements cause delays which, as we come through the pandemic and start to get back to normality, will take a long time to work through.
Diagnoses of cancer has dropped during the pandemic and, while we would love to believe that is because we are winning the battle against this horrible disease, that simply isn’t the case. The numbers have been skewed by fewer people coming forward with symptoms to get them examined by a doctor. The reality is that the number of people walking around with undiagnosed cancer has, and will continue to, increase over the coming weeks and months.
The reason for the declining numbers of people getting checked is because of the fear of contracting the virus. The risk of catching COVID-19 is very real and, of course, the potential for what could happen should you do so has been well-documented – either to yourself or to a loved one you could pass it on to. However, doctors and surgeries have been going out of their way to safeguard patients against the risk of catching the virus within their premises.
New processes and layouts have been implemented to allow for safe social distancing, reducing the risk of coming into close contact with someone outside of your household who could be carrying the virus. If you are still uncertain, you should speak to your doctor who can answer any questions you may have to reassure you, as well as potentially arranging for a virtual consultation or home visit – whatever you feel most comfortable with.
Balancing the Risks of Cancer and COVID
COVID-19, especially to anyone with an underlying health condition, can be dangerous. That is a fact. However, the mortality rate of cancer far exceeds that of the coronavirus and simply cannot be ignored, even amid a global pandemic.
If you discover any potential symptoms of cancer, no matter how unsure you may be, please go and get yourself checked by a doctor. The chances are that they will tell you it is nothing to worry about but, maybe, it could be an early diagnosis that will save your life.