COVID-19 and Advanced-Stage Cancer Diagnoses
The long-term public health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic go far beyond the disease itself, and even beyond its direct economic and health impacts. It has also had a tremendous impact on the healthcare decisions of patients who have not contracted the virus. Worried about their safety in healthcare facilities, many patients postponed or deferred routine screenings and elective procedures, especially early in the pandemic. Radiation oncology professionals are now seeing the ripple effect of these choices, as patients are arriving to their first treatments with more advanced disease than their providers tended to see before the pandemic. Although many have now resumed scheduling these procedures, the delayed screenings’ effects on patients and their health will persist for months and years to come.