Cancer Treatment Centers of America CEO: "Delayed Cancer Care Will Cost More and More Lives" During Second Wave of COVID-19

December 11, 2020

The impending "second wave" of the COVID-19 pandemic is once again causing disruption in oncology care, creating a cancer "shadow curve" that evidence suggests will result in a dramatic spike in undiagnosed and untreated cancer cases as an unintended consequence of the pandemic. In fact, a recent study suggested that delaying cancer treatment by even one month can raise a patient's risk of dying by 6% to 13%, and that risk keeps rising the longer treatment is delayed. And with an increasing number of medical facilities canceling or postponing elective procedures, this could be detrimental for cancer patients.

"Just because we can't see cancer, doesn't mean it's not there," said Pat Basu, M.D., CEO of Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA). "For months we've been sounding the alarm of a pending cancer 'shadow curve'. And as we now face an inevitable 'second wave' and a predicted 'dark winter', my worst fears are being realized as hospitals and patients postpone cancer treatments and elective surgeries in light of hospitals managing a tsunami of COVID-19 patients needing treatment. Delayed cancer care will cost more and more lives. This is a true national emergency."

"There is nothing elective about cancer care and until cancer is ruled out, patients in need of diagnostic appointments or procedures should seek care urgently," said Dr. Julian Schink, CTCA's Chief Medical Officer and a surgical oncologist. "Cancer diagnoses numbers have decreased significantly but that's not because cancer has disappeared. Far from it. It's hiding in our mothers, fathers, uncles, and aunts and it is deadly."

Specialty hospitals like CTCA can and should play an important role in easing the burden on facilities across the country that are treating COVID-19 patients. CTCA notes there are nearly 1.8 million cases of cancer diagnosed each year, but people who have skipped appointments over the last eight months are not getting diagnosed and/or treated.

"As a cancer survivor myself, I implore people to take charge of their health and well-being during this challenging time," says Greg Simon, Former Executive Director of the Cancer Moonshot Task Force. "For nearly nine months we've seen postponements of crucial cancer screenings, diagnostics and treatments, leaving people undiagnosed, undetected, and undertreated. Additionally, JAMA Oncology recently reported that nearly 1 in 5 cancer patients are less likely to enroll in clinical trials during the COVID-19 pandemic. We can no longer allow the pandemic to inhibit people from feeling safe to continue their cancer screenings, treatments, and participation in life saving clinical trials."

About Cancer Treatment Centers of America
Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is a national oncology network of hospitals and outpatient care centers offering an integrated approach that combines surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and advancements in precision medicine with supportive therapies to manage side effects and enhance quality of life during treatment and into survivorship. CTCA also offers qualified patients a range of clinical trials that may reveal new treatment options supported by scientific and investigational research. CTCA patient satisfaction scores consistently rank among the highest for all cancer care providers in the country. Visit cancercenter.com for more information.