Thousands of women have been healed breast cancer suffering from acute anxiety their lives can be cut short because of this corona virus a pandemic that interferes with treatment, a leading charity has warned.
Breast Cancer Now says patients fear they will die sooner than they should because surgery and clinical trials are canceled, struggling to get drugs such as hormone therapy, and experience delays in treatment and scanning.
The charity, which polled more than 580 people with breast cancer in the UK, found that a large number of secondary breast cancer patients have seen their chemotherapy or targeted therapies changed or temporarily stored to boost their immune systems.
Activists note this will result in weeks or even months without receiving treatment, which has helped ensure that their cancer does not worsen.
Breast Cancer Services Now Asking Our nurses experienced a 60 percent increase in March this year – with patients worried about how the Covid-19 emergency affected them.
Joanne Addis, who was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer after being hospitalized in April 2017, a few weeks after undergoing surgery for primary breast cancer, said last month her treatment was suspended for three months.
The 54-year-old woman, who is from Stockport, said: “I am not happy to be told my palbociclib treatment, which has stabilized my cancer for three years, will be stopped. I try not to think about what will happen over the next two months, but I am worried about what I will see in June.
“If my illness is getting worse, I feel like I’ve wasted treatment options and the time that can be given to me. Stopping such valuable treatment is not because my cancer has become unresponsive, but because of the risk of the virus, it seems unfair.
“I ended up in the hospital as soon as I got out of palbociclib when the pain in my right hip became so severe that I could not walk, which felt like too much coincidence at the time. Fortunately, no cancer development was found, but I was really worried about what would happen if the risk of coronavirus continued and I should not use medication for much longer. Everything feels so out of my control right now, which is really difficult.
“There are many people like me who have to stop their cancer treatment and not all of us will get good results by this end. I just hope that the risk of the corona virus drops soon so that I can restart my treatment. “
Breast cancer, which is the most common type of cancer in the UK, claims around 11,500 women live every year in the UK. Secondary breast cancer – where the disease has spread to different areas of the body – is present in almost all of these deaths.
It is estimated that there are around 35,000 people who currently have secondary breast cancer in the UK.
Breast Cancer Now says some patients are worried about whether the treatment they received is working and whether their cancer is growing because monitoring scans are delayed for up to three months after the coronavirus disorder.
Charities warn these problems, coupled with steep referrals for suspected cancers reported by the NHS agencies in April, could result in an increase in cancers identified at a stage where they are more difficult to cure.
The researchers found several women who had undergone treatment for primary breast cancer underwent follow-up scanning.
But this study found patients who had secondary breast cancer were more likely to vent their frustration about facing problems with care during the Covid-19 crisis than women with primary breast cancer.
Karen Hilton, who was diagnosed with secondary breast cancer in September 2018 after seeing a lump in her collarbone, also saw her treatment massively disrupted by the virus.
The 48-year-old man, who hails from Dalkeith in Scotland, will marry his partner for 10 years, Alistair, in April, but the couple was forced to cancel their marriage because of government social distance rules.
“Initially the treatment worked very effectively, but cancer seemed to work its way back and back again,” Hilton said. “Unfortunately, I only have so many choices left, and those choices include trials for new treatments. They could be the thing that kept me alive but at the moment because of Covid-19 I didn’t get access and I don’t know how long it will take for clinical trials to return to the table. I want to see my child grow up and it is very sad to think that that is not possible. “
He added: “I have been on my medication for several weeks now, but the chemotherapy I am taking can reduce my blood count and if it drops too low, I may have to stop. Everything depends on the wire.
“At one time in my life that I wanted to go out and work through my bucket list and all my travel plans, I couldn’t. I can’t even drink coffee with a friend. Very difficult for me and my family. Even though this is a scary situation that I am living with, I also live with the hope that I will get the treatment I need. “
The warning comes amid growing concern that an emergency response to the coronavirus pandemic will have wider health consequences and has led to an increase in deaths from other causes.
A University College London study released last month found that nearly 18,000 more people could die of cancer over the next year in the UK due to the secondary impact of a pandemic, which not only stopped treatment but also prevented people from accessing health services.
Baroness Delyth Morgan, chief executive at Breast Cancer Now, said: “It is very alarming to hear the extraordinary emotional impact of the outbreak in so many people living with secondary breast cancer. Many women experience or fear major changes in their care, and anxiety levels, the distress and fear that we have heard on our help channel are unmatched in recent years.
“Living with incurable breast cancer can be quite difficult, but to add to extreme uncertainties you have to stop treatment that might prolong your life or potentially not be able to access the next treatment or trial that you rely on is very troublesome.
“Doctors, researchers, and NHS experts around the world have worked quickly to develop new protocols to guide treatment decisions during a pandemic, and we hope that for many people, short changes or delays to treatment may not lead to significant long-term impacts. . But we cannot now leave those living with secondary breast cancer when they need the greatest support, action, and hope. When cancer pursuit strategies for the next pandemic stage are developed, it is important that the needs of patients who are often forgotten cancer that cannot be cured are recognized and treated. “
He urged anyone who had concerns with their breast cancer treatment to call their free helpline at 0808 800 6000.
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