The COVID19 pandemic has taken a toll on timely diagnosis and treatment of chronic diseases, and preventive care for ailments like cancer is one of the worst hit.
However, since the cases of COVID19 have started to subside gradually, the need for awareness among the patients has multiplied. In lieu of it, the hospitals have geared up to start awareness campaigns to draw patients’ attention back on cancer treatment.
Suresh Kumar, Director at Delhi’s LokNayak Hospital, told IANS that the hospital will start an awareness campaign specifically for cancer patients.
“Cancer patients have now started to visit our centre since we are now available to all kinds of patients. We are going to start an awareness drive to evade the fear of Covid and stress on the importance of early screening among the people,” he stated.
LokNayak was recently delisted from the dedicated Covid hospital list by the Delhi government. It had served as a key Covid care centre since the pandemic struck the national capital.
Jagat Ram, Director, Post Graduate Institute of Medical Education & Research (PGIMER), Chandigarh, told IANS that its departments are coordinating to raise cancer awareness in the hospital.
“Dietetics, community medicine and radiotherapy departments of our hospital have put up posters besides having dialogues with different groups of people. We have also joined hands with the Panjab University in this endeavour,” he said.
Manish Sharma, Medical Oncologist at Rajiv Gandhi Cancer Institute and Research Centre (RGCIRC) in Delhi, said that owing to the fear of COVID19, people have delayed preventive screenings and early diagnosis of cancer, leading to a burden in the disease. He also cautioned that the burden of Stage 2 and Stage 3 cancer is set to see a spike in the coming months.
“The patients have been extra apprehensive and skeptical of getting cancer care from hospitals as they are immunocompromised and hence are more vulnerable to complications of COVID19. Since many of them did not come for regular screening, check-up and treatment, their disease has progressed to the advanced stage,” Sharma explained.
“We need an assorted campaign from the hospitals as well as from the government to have an upper hand over a flood of cases in the coming months,” he suggested.
Meanwhile, PragyaShukla, Head, Clinical Oncology, Delhi State Cancer Institute (DSCI), said that now the hospitals must restart their cancer care wards since the patients are desperate to visit the hospitals.
“We were the only hospital in the National Capital Region (NCR) which was seeing cancer patients during the pandemic. Even AIIMS had closed its OPD. Now things are getting back to normal and the hospitals must prepare themselves since there is a long queue of cancer patients who could not avail treatment due to the pandemic,” she said.Annually, February 4 is observed as World Cancer Day to raise awareness about cancer and reduce the stigma that surrounds the disease which is the second leading cause of death globally.