Cancer diagnoses down 3.5% due to pandemic
For the first time in 30 years, Dutch doctors diagnosed less cancer cases last year. But that's not good news, according to the Netherlands' integrated cancer center IKNL. The cases declined because the coronavirus pandemic resulted in other healthcare decreasing, NOS reports.
Last year there were 115 thousand cancer diagnoses in the Netherlands, 3.5 percent less than the 119 thousand diagnoses the year before.
In the spring, cancer population screenings were halted during the first lockdown. People also visited their doctor less often, and referrals to specialists decreased. That led to a 25 percent reduction in cancer diagnoses between March and May. During the rest of the year, the backlog was largely caught up, but not completely.
The decrease in diagnoses was especially noticeable in breast cancer, with 11.5 percent fewer diagnoses. Colon cancer diagnoses also saw a significant decline at 8.5 percent, but this is not entirely due to the pandemic. According to the IKNL, the number of colon cancer diagnoses has been falling for a few years because this type of cancer is detected earlier by population screening.
The IKNL worries that the delay in cancer diagnoses, and therefore the lack of early treatment, will lead to an increase in the number of advanced tumors. "Whether that effect will occur and what consequences it will have for the quality of life and chance of survival, is being examined by IKNL together with other researchers, healthcare providers and patients' representatives," the center said.