The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a toll on clinical care and research for cancer, with screening down 85 per cent since March last year – which could possibly see 10,000 deaths over the next 10 years, according to a report by The Indian Express.
The pandemic has resulted in a shift in resources across many sectors towards Covid-19, with cancer care and research also facing the brunt.
Dr (Col) R Ranga Rao, Chairman of Gurugram's Paras Cancer Center told the publication that while the rising Covid-19 cases forced them to revolutionise their clinical care through teleconsultations and artificial intelligence, many surgeries were had to be cancelled and screening for cancer had fallen by 80-85 per cent.
Screening for cancer, be it cervical, breast, or colon can only be done through in-person procedures, and the lack of it could see 10,000 new deaths over the next 10 years, Dr Rao explained, quoting multiple studies.
The story also spoke about how certain cancer treatments like chimeric antigen receptor (CAR) T-cell therapies and bi-specific T-cell engagers (BiTEs), which can possibly result in a side effect called cytokine release syndrome – similar to the cytokine storm experienced by some Covid-19 patients, where the immune system targets normal, healthy tissues in response to a certain treatment.
As for research, with restrictions on the number of workers, many studies have been put on hold. Dr Rao told the publication, quoting reports and studies that cancer research funding is set to drastically reduce this year and several clinical studies have been stopped due to policies restricting the collection of blood and tissue samples.
It's not all gloomy though. Many researchers have come up with unique means of conducting studies like telehealth, e-signatures, and sending oral medicines to triallists, he said.