Experts are concerned that the decline in cancer diagnosis in Victoria in 2020 does not indicate a reduction in disease prevalence, but rather an oversight or delay in diagnosis with the COVID-19 pandemic. increase.
The COVID-19 pandemic has reduced cancer diagnoses around the world.
Victoria 2020 Cancer Report (pdf) When released on December 9, the number of diagnoses in 2020 was about 2,420 less than in the previous year. The most common cancers that were not diagnosed were oral cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, and intestinal cancer.
The council initially expected an increase in the number of diagnoses in late 2020, but this did not happen.
This is a source of concern because the current treatment protocol for cancer means that once diagnosed, treatment for cancer should be started as soon as possible.
Delayed diagnosis often leads to further disease progression, an increased risk of death, and more difficult treatment of the disease.
Zee Wan Wong, associate professor of oncology at Peninsula Health, is concerned that many Victorians are still roaming around without being diagnosed with cancer.
“These undiagnosed cancer patients can present very slow or more complex clinical situations, which can lead to more complex treatments and worse outcomes. “
Rebecca Bergin, a researcher at the Victorian Cancer Council, said the pandemic is a large-scale natural experiment in the potential importance of delayed diagnosis.
“”[The COVID-19 pandemic] What we may see in the future is actually showing that people may have late-stage illness. [when they are diagnosed].. And its potential impact is reduced survival. “She said.
The report also found that cancer diagnoses were significantly reduced in large cities, 7% in major cities, and 5% in rural Victoria.
However, while cancer diagnoses were reduced by 7%, cancer deaths were also reduced by 3%.
The majority of the decline in cancer diagnosis was among Victorian people aged 50-74, with 31 percent of the decline in people aged 75 and over.
Todd Harper, Chief Executive Officer of Cancer Council Victoria, said it is important for all Victorian people to prioritize their health.
“Now that the borders with the state are open, it’s understandable that Victorians want to start living as soon as possible,” Harper said.
“If you’re invited to a cancer screening program, don’t delay it. Make it your top priority. 31 people die of cancer every day in Victoria, so act now to avoid a major health crisis. need to do it.”
“Cancer screening saves lives. It’s one of the most effective ways to detect early signs of cancer.”