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Childhood cancer diagnosis not delayed in 2020: study

BURLINGTON, ONT. – A new study finds no significant change in the number of new cancer diagnoses among Canadian children during the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic, suggesting health care restrictions were in place. at that time did not lead to a delay in the diagnosis.

The study, published Monday in the Canadian Medical Association Journal, compared detection rates before and during the early stages of the pandemic, or between March 2016 and November 2020.

It includes all patients enrolled in the Young Adult Cancer registry in Canada who were under 15 years of age at the time of cancer diagnosis, were diagnosed with cancer – or an abnormal mass of tissue. – according to the International Classification of Childhood Cancer, and was diagnosed and treated at one of 17 pediatric hematology-oncology centers in Canada.

Dr. Marie-Claude Pelland-Marcotte, an oncologist at the CHU de Québec-Université Laval, and her colleagues: the authors wrote in their study.

“Despite a marked decrease in access to emergency departments during the pandemic, families and health care professionals may be less reluctant to access health care for those in need. severe symptoms.”

The authors also found “no significant difference in the proportion of patients enrolled in a clinical trial, presenting with metastatic disease, or dying within 30 days of presentation.”

The study comes amid reports across the pandemic that procedures and screenings have been delayed due to pandemic-related procedures and restrictions – and as a result concerns about the onset of more severe disease stages.

The researchers cite evidence from other countries, namely the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, which shows that adult cancer rates drop by up to 50% after March 2020.

The Canadian study warns that there could be further changes in cancer detection and outcomes in the long-term, as the study only looked at the first nine months of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“While these results are reassuring to children, continued monitoring is needed to identify potential long-term negative effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on children,” the researchers said. I have cancer.

Other studies in adults have also shown reduced rates of new cancer diagnoses, examinations, treatments, and surgeries, the researchers note, “raising concern about potential cancer mortality in years to come.”

They say this could be partly explained by the suspension or reduction of cancer screening activities, such as mammography, colonoscopy and cervical cytology by up to 90%.

A Japanese study of 123 colorectal cancer patients also reported significantly more cases of complete bowel obstruction, suggesting that delay in detection may contribute to the diagnosis at a later stage of the disease. sick.

It is unclear whether these findings apply to childhood cancers because cancer screening is not part of routine child care and early detection may not be possible, the authors write. more important for adult cancers than for adult cancers.”

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