COVID-19 Delays Some Cancer Procedures
- Some hospitals are delaying elective cancer procedures as hospitals face record numbers of COVID-19 patients.
- If you’re fighting cancer, it’s crucial to always advocate for yourself and push for the best possible care regardless of the pandemic.
- You should always get a second and third opinion after your diagnosis. Different doctors might be able to give you more options for treatment.
Cancer Treatments Delayed
Many cancer surgeries and screenings were cancelled or delayed at the beginning of the pandemic, and as the virus spikes again, some medical centers are beginning to delay these treatments again.
A representative from Vanderbilt University’s Medical Center tells SurvivorNet that they will be “delaying elective surgeries that require hospitalization after the surgical procedure,” and UC San Diego Health says it “has begun the process of limited rescheduling of patients for elective surgeries and procedures at our hospitals.”
In Massachusetts, Governor Charlie Baker announced that hospitals would cancel certain elective procedures, including some cancer surgeries, to make more space for COVID-19 patients.
Not every hospital is delaying cancer procedures. Many of the nation’s leading cancer centers told SurvivorNet that they have not cancelled or delayed any elective surgeries due to the recent COVID-19 spike, saying they have adjusted to the demands of the pandemic and can continue all cancer treatments.
Having delayed some screenings and procedures earlier in the year, multiple centers acknowledged that surgeries that may have been non-essential in March are absolutely necessary in December.
“Since we delayed some surgeries, procedures and appointments that were not time-sensitive or critical earlier this year,we have many patients who are now in need of our care,” officials from Duke Health told SurvivorNet. “Further delay could lead to unfavorable outcomes.”
Advocate for Yourself
Whether your cancer treatments are continuing as planned or have been delayed due to COVID-19, it’s incredibly important to be your own advocate. Fighting cancer is a life-and-death battle, and you have every right to demand the best possible care – even during a pandemic.
When working with your medical team, tell them exactly what you are feeling and raise anything that may feel off to you. Every issue should have a plan in place to address it, and if you feel like you are not being heard, continue to push and seek a second opinion if your concerns are not being addressed.
While some cancer procedures might be delayed, essential procedures are still being carried out all across the country. Knowing whether your cancer requires immediate treatment or can wait for a while could be the difference between life and death.
The only way to know this is to continue to push for answers, telling your medical team exactly what you are experiencing and demanding that you receive the best treatment for your specific situation.
“Every appointment you leave as a patient, there should be a plan for what the doc is going to do for you, and if that doesn’t work, what the next plan is,” Dr. Zuri Muriell, Director of the Cedars-Sinai Colorectal Cancer Center, told SurvivorNet in a previous interview. “And I think that that’s totally fair. And me as a health professional– that’s what I do for all of my patients.”
Get a Second Opinion
People battling cancer should always know the exact nature of their diagnosis and the full extent of their treatment options. To do that, you should always get multiple opinions on your diagnosis.
Doctors are not always in agreement about the best ways to treat cancer. Sometimes, what your first doctor recommends might fall short, and a second or third medical professional might be able to show you more options that could help you in your fight.
Dr. Steven Rosenberg, Chief of Surgery at the National Cancer Institute and one of the most renowned cancer doctors in America, agrees.
“If I had any advice for you following a cancer diagnosis, it would be, first, to seek out multiple opinions as to the best care, because finding a doctor who is up to the latest of information is important,” Rosenberg previously told SurvivorNet. “And it’s always important to get other opinions so that you can make the best decisions for yourself in consultation with your care providers.”