he COVID-19 pandemic has the potential to disproportionately affect and disrupt the lives of cancer survivors, including those currently in treatment, those who have completed treatment, and those who are now living cancer-free, said Dr Naresh Puohit, Advisor, National Cancer Control Programme on Sunday.
Umpteen number of cancer survivors need tailored, patient-centered care during these trying times of the pandemic, said Dr Purohit in a release on the occasion of National Cancer Survivors Day today.
According to the National Institute of Cancer Prevention and Research (NICPR), an estimated 2.25 million people are living with cancer in India, he said.
Today, along with the stress of undergoing treatment, these patients have additional stress, courtesy of the coronavirus, that has only spiked their anxiety levels.
Due to the volatility of current circumstances, there is prevailing stress, depression, and even paranoia, he added.
An acclaimed Epidemiologist, Dr Purohit said that the pandemic has caused an adverse impact on the mental wellbeing of millions of people around the world. More so among those with compromised immune systems or pre-existing medical conditions, such as cancer, as they are more prone to infections.
Citing his recent scientific study published in the Journal of Singapore Cancer Institute, Dr Purohit averred that more than half of cancer survivors in India have underlying medical conditions associated with severe COVID-19 illness, including chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart diseases, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, and obesity.
Executive Member of the Federation of Hospital Administrators, Dr Purohit pointed out that the pandemic has put healthcare systems under unprecedented stress. To prioritize hospital capacity for critically ill COVID-19 patients, elective care in many hospitals of the country was suspended as much as possible, and only emergency care and semi-urgent oncological procedures were continued.
Online interventions supporting mental health and social interaction are needed during times of social distancing and lockdowns, he added.