Randall A. Oyer, MD
Randall A. Oyer, MD, President of the Association of Community Cancer Centers (ACCC), released a statement regarding the rise in mortality rates of specific cancers and the rise in the occurrence of advanced metastatic cancers in 2020. New research presented at the United European Gastroenterology Week Virtual 2020 showed a significantly higher rate of mortality (11.9%) in colorectal cancer as a direct result of the global COVID-19 pandemic. Additionally, GenesisCare, which provides oncology care worldwide, released data showing an increase in the number of patients with late-stage cancer diagnoses.
According to the study, the number of women presenting with stage III or IV breast cancer increased to 18.1% from the previous year’s figure of 12.1%. In addition, the percentage of patients presenting with stage III or IV lung cancer increased to 38% from the figure of 32.6% from the previous year.
After so many years of a steady decrease in both mortality and late-stage diagnosis rates, the health-care community understood the catastrophic impact that COVID-19 might have on screenings and diagnoses. The rise in advanced metastatic rates and the change in death rates indicated by these data represent a warning to all sectors of health care to do whatever it takes to encourage screenings and reassure patients.
The ACCC has worked with its membership to quickly adapt to changes in the delivery of quality care to patients. The organization shared its ideas on how cancer and medical professionals can employ creative techniques to improve cancer screening, such as the following:
ACCC is also addressing the financial impact of COVID-19, which can affect patients’ decisions to delay screenings or treatment, through podcasts, curated resources, and a dedicated online community.