August 23, 2021

Covid delays for cancer patients

“The government was quick to protect the team of 5 million last Tuesday with the announcement of a rapid lockdown that evening, which has been recognised by most as important in protecting the health of the community,” says Bowel Cancer NZ medical advisor Professor Frank Frizelle.

“While the country anxiously watches the increasing number of delta variant COVID cases being diagnosed, we should not forget the large number of people waiting for investigation and treatment of their cancer. This is a very stressful time for them.

“Hopefully, we have learnt something from the lockdown last year, after which it took, in some cases, almost a year to clear the backlog of investigations (such as colonoscopies) and treatment that were not done due to that national lockdown,” says Professor Frizelle.

“This left many people with significant delays in investigations and treatment. As we know that outcomes improve with earlier diagnosis, these delays are important and can lead to the need for more extensive (and expensive) treatment and worse outcomes.

“While it is important we lockdown to help control the delta variant, we also need to continue to progress investigation and treatment for cancer patients to avoid a double disaster of delayed diagnosis and treatment of people with cancer and community COVID,” says Professor Frizelle.