MONDAY, Oct. 4, 2021 (HealthDay News) — Colon cancer numbers dropped dramatically during the COVID-19 pandemic, but that doesn’t mean fewer people have the disease.
In Spain, researchers discovered a more than 40% decline in colon cancer diagnoses, leading experts to worry about the ramifications.
“These are very worrying findings indeed — cases of colorectal cancer undoubtedly went undiagnosed during the pandemic. Lead author Dr. Maria Jose Domper Arnal said that there were fewer diagnoses and those who were diagnosed had more severe symptoms. She is from the Zaragoza’s Service of Digestive Diseases and University Clinic Hospital.
“Although these figures are across a population of 1.3 million in Spain, it’s highly likely that the same drop in diagnoses would have happened elsewhere across the globe where screening was stopped and surgeries postponed, especially in countries that were heavily impacted by COVID-19,” Arnal added.
The researchers compared data from the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic (March 15, 2020 to Feb. 28, 2021) with data from the previous year. They found that nearly two-thirds of the 1,385 cases of colon cancer diagnosed in those two years in multiple hospitals in Spain happened in the pre-pandemic year.
In addition, there were 27% fewer colonoscopies performed during the pandemic than in the previous year.
Those who were diagnosed in the pandemic year were older than in the pre-pandemic year, had more frequent symptoms, greater complications and were seen at a more advanced disease stage.
These symptoms can include bowel perforation, abscesses, bowel obstruction and bleeding requiring hospital admission. These issues accounted for nearly 15% of cases during the pandemic, compared to less than 11% pre-pandemic. Stage 4 cancers were about 20% during the pandemic and about 16% before the pandemic.
It’s expected there will be nearly 150,000 cases of colon or rectal cancer in the United States this year, and nearly 53,000 deaths from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society.
The study points to suspension of screening programs and postponements of non-urgent colonoscopies as reasons for the drop. According to the study, less cancers were detected during routine screenings, and more cases were diagnosed by symptoms.
The research was presented Sunday at the United European Gastroenterology’s annual meeting, UEG Week Virtual 2021. Meeting results should not be published until they are peer-reviewed.
“Colorectal cancer is often curable if it’s caught at an early stage. Arnal stated in a news release that our concern is losing the ability to diagnose patients at an early stage. This will impact patient survival and outcomes. This will likely be a long-lasting effect. “
The American Cancer Society has more on colon cancer.
SOURCE: United European Gastroenterology, news release, Oct. 3, 2021
For mor dWeb.News Health and Medical News at https://dweb.news/news-sections/health-medical-news/
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