Tumors diagnosed at an advanced stage lead to more aggressive treatments and less chance of cure
06/10/2020 11:33 – By: Cristina Nunes
October is the month destined to intensify campaigns and public policies to fight breast cancer. Current times have been challenging for cancer patients and for those seeking a diagnosis of the disease. Since the beginning of the pandemic, according to estimates by the Brazilian Societies of Pathology and Oncological Surgery, more than 50 thousand Brazilians have stopped being diagnosed with cancer. The Brazilian Society of Mastology, on the other hand, warns of the drop in visits to public hospitals in the country of patients undergoing treatment for breast cancer. According to a survey carried out in hospital centers that provide services through the Unified Health System (SUS) in the main capitals, the drop in care for women undergoing treatment in March and April was, on average, 75% lower, compared to the same period last year.
In an interview with PROGRESSO, mastologist Dr. Gabriel Ikejiri, who works in Dourados, spoke of the doctors’ concern regarding the delay in diagnoses due to the pandemic. The specialist also spoke about ways to prevent breast cancer and scientific advances in the treatment of the disease. Check out:
How the pandemic has affected the treatment of breast cancer. Have consultations decreased?
The coronavirus pandemic greatly affected cancer treatment in the country. The Brazilian society of pathology and oncology surgery estimated until July / 20 that more than 50,000 cases of cancer were left undiagnosed in the country. This means that more than 50,000 people will have their diagnoses delayed and many may have missed the chance to treat in time for a cure. Public health clinics had an extremely significant reduction in consultations, caused both by the closing of services and by fear of patients seeking care. Many locations still remain unattended or with minimal movement even today.
Was there a reduction or increase in diagnoses of breast cancer cases in the Dourados region this year?
Due to the reduction in consultations and screening tests (prevention routine) the number of cases has decreased, but the number does not reflect the actual number of current cases.
Several health-related agencies have warned of an advanced ‘cancer epidemic’ in the post-pandemic period. Is there this same fear among health professionals in our region? Are people failing to get tested because of the pandemic?
Advanced cancer cases have been more frequent, mainly due to the postponement of patients’ demand for health services and medical offices. Until the beginning of September / 20 there was a significant reduction in the number of preventive exams and biopsies of suspicious findings in the breasts, reflecting the reduction in diagnoses and the consequent cases that will be diagnosed later.
** What is the best way to prevent breast cancer? ** The best way to prevent breast cancer is to take care of your lifestyle and diet. Do not smoke, avoid regular use of alcohol, practice physical activity regularly, avoid indiscriminate use of hormones, be careful with your weight especially after menopause. The best form of secondary prevention is screening with annual mammography from the age of 40.
Who suffers from the disease, how should they proceed in these pandemic times? Is it dangerous to go to hospitals?
Patients with cancer or suspicion should perform their exams without further delay when possible in places with low circulation of covid-19 patients. In situations of confirmed diagnosis of cancer or highly suspicious, regardless of the status of the covid-19 of the place where you live, adequate care must be initiated by taking precautionary measures with the highest rigor. Attending hospitals should be reserved for those who really need it. Avoiding unnecessary trips or too many companions is essential.
Have there been any scientific advances in relation to the treatment of breast cancer?
Breast cancer is one of the most studied in the world and scientific studies are published daily that bring us news for treatment. At this time, what is being studied the most is related to new drugs to combat the different subtypes of breast cancer, some of which are being incorporated into clinical practice.
Is breast cancer still the type of cancer that most affects Brazilian women? Are deaths from the disease decreasing?
Breast cancer is still the most frequent in Brazilian women, behind only non-melanoma skin cancers. Unfortunately, each year the numbers increase, both in patients affected by the disease and in deaths from this cause. This is because access to early diagnosis and adequate treatment are still very heterogeneous in our country as a whole, in addition to prevention actions, whether primary or secondary, which are still in general in almost all regions of the country.