Survey: 79% of cancer patients report delay in care due to coronavirus

A nationwide survey of around 1,200 cancer patients currently in active treatment shows that more than three-quarters have reported delays in care because of the coronavirus.

It is the second survey of its kind from the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network since the start of the pandemic, and reported numbers continue to rise in different categories.

In total, 87 percent of patients have said their health care has been affected in some way, while 17 percent said they delayed certain treatments, like radiation and chemotherapy.

The numbers are alarming for Amy Farner, Survey Administrator with the Cancer Action Network.

“What was really alarming in the second survey was the extent that which those disruptions had continued and were becoming really universal,” she said. “Nearly a quarter of our respondents were worried they would lose access to their health insurance as a result of the pandemic.”

Their is also a financial concern among patients, according to Farner.

“Half of our respondents said their financial situation has changed in a way that affects their ability to pay for health care,” she said.

Paul Adam’s brother, Peter, was recently diagnosed with leukemia in Rhode Island.

He said his brother hasn’t necessarily had a delay in care, but there certainly is concern because of the recent survey.

“I personally think about it everyday. I worry that at some point in time he’s not going to be able to get the treatment that he’s getting, that it’s going to delay progress,” Adam said. “And the whole thing with COVID-19, just in general, and trying to make sure he stays healthy and we don’t bring anything to him.”

Farner said that some of the cases are patients voluntarily skipping treatment because they have fears of going to the hospital.

According to Dr. Joseph Plakyil, oncologist with Kent Hospital, the hospital is a safe place to go, and the only delays he has seen were for things such as elective procedures.

“There is no reason why someone who thinks they need appropriate cancer care should be reluctant to make that trip,” Plakyil said. “Every delay is not always detrimental to a patient’s outcome.”

As for Adam’s brother, his family is hoping he will go into remission soon, but it is likely he will need a bone marrow transplant.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island, US & World News