Cancer Treatment Graphic Illustration: IndiaEhs,Com

Delaying cancer treatment increases risk of death by 10 percent each month ─Study

*Researchers hope that these findings lead to policy changes that benefit cancer patients and prioritise cancer patients’ health, wellness within the medical system

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Researchers from the Queen’s University in a fresh study have found that delays in cancer treatment can be incredibly detrimental to patients’ health outcomes.

Their study findings showed the risk of death could increase by roughly 10 percent for each month that cancer treatment is delayed.

Timothy Hanna, one of the researchers, said: “A four-week delay in treatment is associated with an increase in mortality across all common forms of cancer treatment, with longer delays being increasingly detrimental.”

ConsumerConnect gathered that in connection with increasing risk of death, and to better understand why delays in cancer treatment exist, and what risk it poses to patients’ health, the researchers analysed 34 studies that included data on over 1.2 million patients.

The study focused on the most common types of the disease, such as cancers of the lung, colon, head, breast, rectum, neck, cervix, and bladder.

Besides, the scientists examined three treatment plans: chemotherapy, surgery, and radiotherapy.

Eventually, the researchers learned that delaying cancer treatment of any kind can increase patients’ risk of death, and the longer treatment is delayed, the more the risk of mortality increases.

Forexample, delaying breast cancer surgery eight weeks was associated with a 17 percent increased risk of death; however, pushing that surgery back 12 weeks increased the risk of death by more than 25 percent.

On importance of screenings and early detection, these findings are concerning for several reasons.

Early detection is extremely important for treating many forms of cancer because patients have the best outcomes when the condition is addressed as quickly as possible.

Nonetheless, the researchers explained that the nature of healthcare systems often make it difficult for cancer patients to start treatments as quickly as they would like.

The study equally found that with the COVID-19 pandemic, many hospitals were forced to rearrange their surgery schedules and cancel or push back other types of treatments, including cancer treatments.

These findings make it clear that these delays put cancer patients at risk, and timing is really of the essence when it comes to having the best possible health outcomes.

Going forward, the researchers hope that these findings lead to policy changes that benefit cancer patients and prioritise their health and wellness.

Hanna stated: “In light of these results, policies focused on minimising system level delays in cancer treatment initiation could improve population level survival outcomes.”

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