Most patients put off going to the doctor or skipped undergoing checkups because of the coronavirus pandemic last year. Despite infection cases dropping and vaccine rollout, data analytics still show a considerable drop in CT imaging for cancer. Researchers from Harvard Medical School and Massachusetts General Hospital conducted an analysis of CT exams for cancer that were conducted last year, both during the precoronavirus phase and the peak coronavirus phase, as well as in the post-coronavirus peak phase.
The researchers studied the care delivered to patients via imaging as well as the CT volume, finding that during the disease’s peak, there was a significant drop in CT volume. In addition, initial workup and cancer screening volumes didn’t bounce back during the post-coronavirus peak phase, remaining more than 11.8% and 20% below their precoronavirus figures.
In a press release, Marc Succi, senior author of the study, stated that the drop observed during the coronavirus peak was expected given the shutdown of imaging departments and the stay-at-home orders imposed as a precautionary measure. The researchers assert that the continued drop of CTs for initial workup and cancer screening will considerably impact the prevention of this chronic illness. They note that this decline could result in high numbers of individuals with advanced cancers in the future.
Succi added that they expected to see higher rates of mortality and morbidity because most patients didn’t undergo their routine imaging. The researchers theorize that the patients probably didn’t undergo their routine follow-up appointments either, given the low turnout for imaging. The possibility of exposure to the coronavirus made most patients, especially those who had a heightened risk of infection, reluctant to visit care centers and hospitals. For that reason, patients likely postponed their visits until their symptoms couldn’t be ignored anymore.
While the coronavirus can be fatal for high-risk patients as well as those with cancer, delaying cancer care can be harmful as well. Succi maintained that it was important to have better outreach and awareness toward the oncologic patient population, noting that, for instance, when a patient was scheduled for a yearly lung cancer screening, it was important that physicians ensure that the patient was aware of the need and encourage them to be screened, regardless of the coronavirus. Succi also highlighted that delaying screening would lead to delayed cancer diagnoses.
The team of researchers plans to conduct another study to track imaging volumes for CT scans for 2021. This research is in addition to examining the role of social determinants of health in access to imaging for this deadly disease.
Much can be done to encourage people to resume their cancer screening, especially given that companies such as AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co. Ltd. (NADAQ: ANPC) are focused on bringing to market the latest and most cost-effective cancer screening technologies so that people can get onto treatment sooner once a positive diagnosis is confirmed.
NOTE TO INVESTORS: The latest news and updates relating to AnPac Bio-Medical Science Co. Ltd. (NASDAQ: ANPC) are available in the company’s newsroom at https://ibn.fm/ANPC
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