The COVID-19 pandemic has had a “catastrophic effect” on cancer patients in Europe: WHO official

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a “catastrophic effect” on cancer patients over the past two years. WHO Europe Director Hans Kluge said Thursday, as up to 50% of cancer services were disrupted last year.

Kruge Virtual press conference The day before World Cancer Day, International Awareness Day led by the Union for International Cancer Control (UICC).

“Tomorrow is World Cancer Day. We would like to take this opportunity to highlight the catastrophic impact of the pandemic on cancer patients over the last two years,” said Kluge.

“The effects of COVID-19 certainly go far beyond the disease itself. Cancer affects all our lives, either directly or through effects on family and loved ones. In Europe and Central Asia. One in four people will be diagnosed with cancer in their lifetime, which is one of the leading causes of mortality and morbidity in the WHO European region, accounting for more than 20% of all deaths.

“Looking back over the last two years, cancer screening, diagnosis and treatment are struggling in an unprecedented way because medical services are struggling to respond to COVID-19,” said WHO Europe Director. I added.

In the last three months of 2021, all countries reporting in Europe saw 5-50% confusion in cancer treatments such as screening and treatment, according to the latest WHO Global Pulse Survey. ..

But the situation has improved since the first three months of last year, Kruge said. “The knock-on effect of this turmoil will be felt for years.”

In late 2021, 44% of countries around the world reported an increase in cancer screening service backlogs during the discovery of the Omicron variant of COVID-19, according to a WHO study.

However, in the early stages of the pandemic, the data were much worse, with the diagnosis of invasive tumors reduced by 44% in Belgium and 34% less than expected in Spain.

In Italy, which experienced one of the worst outbreaks of the virus in the first stages of the pandemic, colonic rectal screening decreased by 46% between 2019 and 2020.

“The way pandemics delay cancer treatment and backlog services is a deadly interaction,” Kruge said. “At this point, 24 months after the arrival of COVID-19, healthcare professionals have been over-expanded and exhausted to address the direct effects of the virus.

“But thanks to vaccination, and as a result of less serious Omicron, any rest provided by widespread immunity [variant]Along with the upcoming spring and summer seasons, to reduce the backlog of chronic care services, healthcare professionals should use immediately to be able to return to other important health care functions. ..

“As we move forward, maintaining essential medical services, including services along the line of cancer treatment from prevention to early detection, diagnosis, treatment and palliative care, is a component of emergency planning and response. It must be, “says Kruge.

Kluge added that 30-40 percent of cancers in Europe and Central Asia are preventable.

To commemorate World Cancer Day, WHO is publishing a new guide to cancer screening as part of its initiative to eradicate cancer as a life-threatening disease in Europe and Central Asia through evidence-based policies.

On Wednesday, President Joe Biden said he would halve the country’s cancer mortality over the next 25 years as part of the “Monthly Cancer” initiative first launched in 2016 by then-President Barack Obama. Announced commitment.

Catabella Roberts


Katabella Roberts is a reporter currently based in Turkey. She focuses primarily on the United States and covers the news and business of The Epoch Times.