Cancer Rates and Covid-19
As medical practitioners in Australia we have noticed an alarming number of people are ignoring symptoms and signs of potential fatal cancers during COVID-19 pandemic. The number of people who are seeing the general practitioner has dropped substantially since March 2020.
For example the number of lung cancers that have been diagnosed since March 2020 has dropped by 50% according to the CEO of Lung Foundation Australia Dr Christine Jenkins. This means that there are more than 1000 Australians living with undiagnosed lung cancer. About 12 700 Australians are diagnosed with lung cancer each year and 9000 people die each year.
A new campaign ‘Persistent cough? Don’t wait. Investigate for national radio in all major cities in Australia has recently been launched.
Similarly as we will possibly see a rise melanomas as people are not presenting to their local doctors. The number of cases of melanomas expected to be diagnosed in 2020 is projected to be 16 221 of which 9480 cases will be male and 6741 will be female. Melanomas make up 11% of all new cases of cancer in 2020. The estimated number of deaths of melanoma in 2020 will be 1375 of which 891 will be male and 484 will be female.
What are the commonest cancers in Australia? In order of prevalence:
- Breast cancer
This is the commonest cancer. It does not only occur in women. Men make up about 1% of cases.
1 in 8 women are diagnosed each year with breast cancer. There are about 20 000 cases a year annually. Here are the commonest cancers in Australia in descending order of prevalence
- Prostate cancer
- Colorectal cancer
- Lung cancer
General practitioners have noticed a significant decrease in the number of patients presenting to their GPs. This is surprising given the fact Medicare Australia has quickly implemented telehealth item numbers for all doctors initially for GPs and more recently for specialists.
Therefore I would advise my patients not to ignore any symptom or sign by seeing their local doctor. If the local doctor cannot diagnose you using telehealth you will be seen face to face. Please check with your local doctor.
Children and COVID-19
Children are typically the last in households to develop COVID-19, suggesting they can be infected but are rarely an index case for an outbreak, researchers say.
A Swiss study of the country’s first 40 children under 16 years known to be infected with COVID-19 has found 80% were from families with at least one other person infected with the virus.
However, in only 8% of households were the children the first to develop symptoms, the researchers wrote in Pediatrics.
An accompanying commentary by paediatricians at the University of Vermont, US, said the results suggested “children most frequently acquire COVID-19 from adults, rather than transmitting it to them”.
Keep healthy, happy and stay safe.