This year, medical establishments have been saturated with cases of Covid-19. Thus, caregivers had to postpone operations for other pathologies. In addition, for fear of catching the virus, or for lack of finding an available health worker, many patients did not seek medical attention and diagnoses were delayed. According to the Unicancer federation, delays in the care of cancer patients during the first wave of Covid-19 could lead to between 1,000 and 6,000 deaths in the years to come.
The number of cancer patients treated in hospitals down sharply in 2020
The Unicancer federation, which brings together the eighteen French cancer centers, private non-profit establishments that treat a quarter of cancer patients in France, noted: ” A 6.8% reduction in cancer patients treated in the first seven months of 2020 compared to 2019 was observed, compared to an annual increase of 4% in previous years. “
The federation specifies that we observed the data on newly diagnosed patients without taking into account patients who are being treated for cancer for this study. The National Health Data System reports that the number of cancer patients fell 23.3% from the previous year between January and August 2020.
In conclusion, scientists estimate that a thousand more deaths will be caused by the 6.8% reduction in the care of cancer patients. However, they estimate that one could count up to a little less than 6,000 additional deaths if ever the actual figures approach the announced 23.3%. And again, this toll could increase given that these projections do not take into account the repercussions of the second wave of Covid-19.
The situation is different for the second wave
The situation is different for the second wave of Covid-19, however. ” We are not at all in the same situation in the second confinement as in the first, the patients come », Said Jean-Yves Blay, president of Unicancer. At the beginning of November, the Minister of Health, Olivier Véran, nevertheless indicated that we have not learned all the lessons from the first confinement. For the latter, the coronavirus is a much less serious disease than cancer. He emphasizes that all health precautions are taken in medical establishments. Thus, do not hesitate to consult in case of doubt. He explains that depending on the type of cancer, the prognosis worsens by 6 to 13% per month of lag.
For information, we identify 382,000 new cancer cases and 157,400 deaths every year in France. In the short term, the death toll from cancer is unlikely to increase. On the other hand, there is a risk that the number of relapses and deaths will multiply in the long term.