Madurai

‘Lockdown led to decline in breast cancer patients seeking treatment’

Madurai

Doctors of Meenakshi Mission Hospital said that there was a sharp decline in the number of breast cancer patients seeking treatment in the initial five months of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced lockdown as people avoided visiting healthcare facilities due to the fear of contracting the virus and because of travel restrictions.

Delayed treatment has a serious impact on morbidity and mortality of breast cancer patients, said K.S. Kirushna Kumar, Head, Radiation Oncology.

“A section of people reached healthcare facilities for treatment through their private transport. However, people from lower economic families could not seek treatment due to the absence of public transport,” he said.

Krishnakumar Rathnam, Senior Consultant, Medical Oncology, said that COVID-19 does not directly impact the health condition of breast cancer patients. But those undergoing chemotherapy have low immunity, increasing the risk of infection, he added.

Awareness of breast cancer is still lower in the country, resulting in delayed diagnosis, said R. Vijayabhaskar, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology.

“While only around 35% of the breast cancer patients get diagnosed in stages 1 and 2, nearly 50% of the patients get diagnosed in stage 3. This is in contrast to the western countries where 95% of the breast cancer patients get diagnosed in stages 1 and 2,” he said.

Dr. Rathnam said that breast cancer cases were increasing and even younger women were also affected.

If breast cancer is diagnosed at an earlier stage, then it is easily curable, said Dr. Vijayabhaskar. “Every woman who is aged above 40 must get screened once every year,” he said.

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Printable version | Dec 6, 2020 4:49:58 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Madurai/lockdown-led-to-decline-in-breast-cancer-patients-seeking-treatment/article32902500.ece

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