The initial wave of the COVID-19 pandemic outbreak has affected early detection in lung cancer patients, especially in the United Kingdom, according to reports.
For both illnesses, a cough is a common symptom, which can cause several patients with lung cancer to listen to quarantine at home in fear of the coronavirus. Therefore, patients are being diagnosed at a later stage, hindering their chances of survival.
“There is a specific problem for lung cancer, which is the overlap of symptoms with COVID-19,” Professor Sir Mike Richards, former director of the National Cancer Institute, said.
“Some patients may develop cough symptoms and be told to stay at home until their symptoms get worse. This has resulted in an increase in late-stage presentations.”
The UK Lung Cancer Coalition believed that the COVID-19 pandemic would cause 20 years’ worth of improvements in the survival rates of lung cancer patients to reverse.
“At least a third of patients with lung cancer have already died since the beginning of the pandemic,” Professor David Baldwin, respiratory medicine consultant at the University of Nottingham added. “Some deaths will not have been recognized as lung cancer and may have even been labeled as COVID-19.”
In the UK, lung cancer is the deadliest cancer, with an average of 35,000 deaths each year. On top of that, the country has reported 789,229 positive COVID-19 cases, with a total of 44,158 deaths.
“With studies showing a 16% increase in mortality if the time from diagnosis to surgery is more than 40 days, a delay of three months or more can mean the progression from a potentially curative tumor towards one that is only suitable for palliative care,” the report continued.
“It is estimated that the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic could lead to an additional 1,372 deaths due to lung cancer, reversing the progress achieved in lung cancer over recent years.”
The Department of Health urges individuals to visit a local hospital if they experience lung cancer symptoms.