One of the country’s most noted mesothelioma specialists is warning that the pandemic’s disruption will make things much more challenging for those at risk for asbestos-related diseases. According to Dr. R. Taylor Ripley, many mesothelioma patients are delaying seeking treatment and not making appointments until their symptoms are already in a more advanced stage.
Baylor Mesothelioma Specialist Expresses Concern
Dr. Ripley is one of the nation’s leading specialists in the treatment of malignant mesothelioma. He is the director of the Mesothelioma Treatment Center, co-director of the Thoracic Oncology Working Group at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center and associate professor of General Thoracic Surgery at Baylor College of Medicine. This week, in the medical school’s Department of Surgery’s blog, he expressed significant concern over the impact of the pandemic on screening and treatment for the rare form of cancer.
Dr. Ripley describes the decisions made at the pandemic’s start, deliberately delaying elective procedures while continuing to perform necessary procedures for those with existing diagnoses in light of the risk of malignant mesothelioma’s progression. He also speaks to the misplaced hope that the pandemic’s peak would be limited and that his city would not face the same tragedy as had been seen in other cities.
Six-Month Lookback at Impact of COVID-19 on Mesothelioma
While Dr. Ripley expresses satisfaction with the decision not to delay mesothelioma surgeries, he is now extremely concerned that only patients with established diagnoses were treated, saying, “Telemedicine may help our established patients; however, the continued quarantine may prevent patients from seeking care who were not diagnosed prior to the pandemic.”
Echoing concerns voiced in June by Dr. Norman E. Sharpless of the National Cancer Institute about cancers being missed as patients avoid screening, diagnosis and treatment due to the pandemic, Dr. Ripley reports seeing “fewer patients with new diagnoses of MPM who are minimally symptomatic. Many of our patients are symptomatic with shortness of breath and chest pain.” These patients’ disease is further advanced and more difficult to treat, and it is likely that they will have shorter overall survival.
Dr. Ripley strongly recommends those who are experiencing even the slightest symptoms of mesothelioma to see their physician immediately rather than wait for the pandemic to pass. If you need help connecting with a specialist the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net can help. Contact us today at 1-800-692-8608.