During the coronavirus pandemic, we were locked down or told to stay home in order to stop the spread. Depending on where you lived, the lock downs lasted for weeks and even months. But it was all to help save lives the politicians and medical experts told us. The panic and fear about COVID-19 set in resulting in people even skipping out on much needed medical screenings and treatments for illnesses such as cancer and a recent report out of Europe gives a clue as to the result.
Who could have guessed that a cancer epidemic involving millions of people could be in Europe’s future resulting from the COVID-19 policies? But it was all to follow the science. From The Guardian:
The pandemic did not cause the set back in cancer outcomes, the lock downs did and the tragic part is that the consequences are being revealed now rather than examining the effects before taking such drastic action.
One unintended consequence of the pandemic was the adverse effects that the rapid repurposing of health services and national lockdowns, and their continuing legacy, have had on cancer services, on cancer research, and on patients with cancer, the experts said.
“To emphasise the scale of this problem, we estimate that about 1m cancer diagnoses might have been missed across Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic,” they wrote in The Lancet Oncology. “There is emerging evidence that a higher proportion of patients are diagnosed with later cancer stages compared with pre-pandemic rates as a result of substantial delays in cancer diagnosis and treatment. This cancer stage shift will continue to stress European cancer systems for years to come.
“These issues will ultimately compromise survival and contribute to inferior quality of life for many European patients with cancer.”
A lot of people had their lives destroyed resulting from the lock downs. Worst of all, none of the so-called experts who recommended these policies and many of the politicians who enacted them paid any price for being wrong and, unfortunately, may never will.
The report analysed data and found clinicians saw 1.5 million fewer patients with cancer in the first year of the pandemic, with one in two patients with cancer not receiving surgery or chemotherapy in a timely manner. About 100m screenings were missed, and it is estimated that as many as 1 million European citizens may have an undiagnosed cancer as a result of the backlog.
“We estimate that approximately 1m cancer diagnoses were missed across Europe during the Covid-19 pandemic,” said Prof Mark Lawler, of Queen’s University Belfast, the chair and lead author of the commission. “We are in a race against time to find those missing cancers.
“Additionally, we saw a chilling effect on cancer research, with laboratories shut down and clinical trials delayed or cancelled in the first pandemic wave. We are concerned that Europe is heading towards a cancer epidemic in the next decade if cancer health systems and cancer research are not urgently prioritised.”
Worst of all, much needed medical research was interrupted too setting back that field for quite some time. But, like environmentalists said at the time, look on the bright side. At least the staff at many medical facilities were able to make lots of TikTok videos of them dancing.