Malignant mesothelioma is a rare form of cancer that is always considered fatal. Effective treatment is complicated by a long latency period and symptoms not appearing until late in the cancer’s progression. While this has long been a concern, experts say that the situation has been made far worse by COVID-19 as those who are at risk or who are experiencing symptoms have delayed screenings and avoided their physicians’ offices out of fear of exposure to the virus.
Late Detection of Mesothelioma and Other Cancers Leads to Decreased Survival
According to experts, the delays in screening and late detection is likely to cause an increase in the overall cancer mortality rate and a shortened overall survival for those with deadly diseases like malignant mesothelioma. Though the disease is always considered fatal, earlier diagnosis has facilitated the use of multiple protocols that have improved quality of life and increasing overall survival time.
According to Dr. Ronald Hale, medical director for radiation oncology at Kettering Health network, “The concern is that with COVID causing people to be less inclined to get their screening done, we’re going to likely see, and to some extent are already seeing, cancers diagnosed at a later stage.”
COVID-19 Fears Lead to Postponement of Screenings of those at Risk for Mesothelioma
People with a known exposure to asbestos schedule regular mesothelioma screenings, but doctors fear that those screenings have been postponed in the same way that many others are delaying mammograms, PAP smears, colonoscopies and prostate examinations. A recent study warned “cancer does not pause” and predicted an extra 33,890 cancer deaths in the United States as a result of delayed diagnosis caused by the pandemic, while a study conducted in the United Kingdom warned of “substantial increases in the number of avoidable cancer deaths.”
Though early diagnosis can’t prevent the inevitably fatal course of malignant mesothelioma, it can extend the overall survival time and provide greater relief from the disease’s painful symptoms.
If you are at risk for malignant mesothelioma and due for a checkup, speak with your physician about the measures being taken to protect you from COVID-19. For more information, contact the Patient Advocates at Mesothelioma.net at 1-800-692-8608.