BOCA RATON, Fla., May 21, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption in oncology care and is creating a cancer "shadow curve" that may result in a dramatic spike in undiagnosed and untreated cancer cases as a side-effect of the pandemic. The US has already witnessed a 37 percent drop in cancer care diagnosis compared to this same time period last year, demonstrating a need to reopen testing and screening as soon as possible.
To combat the "shadow curve," Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), a national network of hospitals and outpatient centers, has remained operational for patients during COVID-19 and has taken every precaution to limit exposure. CTCA® notes there are nearly 1.8 million cases of cancer diagnosed each year, but people who have skipped appointments over the last three months are not getting diagnosed. If they wait until next year, when an undiagnosed condition may worsen, even if it remains treatable, they could face dramatically worse consequences to their quality of life for years.
"We must do everything possible to avoid the cancer shadow curve. Cancers are going undiagnosed, undetected and undertreated as disruption continues and important cancer screenings are postponed," says Pat Basu, MD, MBA, CTCA President & CEO. "Cancer doesn't wait for COVID-19 and neither will we. We will continue to screen people and provide treatment, while creating and implementing new tools to empower people to identify specific screenings and steps they must take."
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A recent survey from the American Cancer Society stated that half of all cancer patients surveyed reported some impact on their care due to COVID-19. Most startling is that among those in active treatment, more than a quarter "report a delay in their care, and 13 percent say they don't know when it will be rescheduled."
To help more people navigate the current cancer environment, CTCA developed three virtual tools that are now accessible to anyone interested in evaluating their own personal cancer risk or learning more about cancer and COVID-19:
Online Risk Assessment. Providing immediate access to personalized cancer information through an online risk assessment tool for seven common cancer types.
Alexa Skill: Cancer Center for Alexa. Expanding access to the full resources and patient empowerment tools available on cancercenter.com to any Amazon device by saying "Alexa, enable cancer center."
Virtual assistant. Offering answers to questions found at the complex intersection of COVID-19 and cancer. Available on cancercenter.com.