On the occasion of World Health Day, celebrated on April 7, ACCC has joined other national and regional cancer organizations around the globe in signing a Joint Letter on Covid-19 and Cancer. Today, 292 cosigners of the letter, including the European Cancer Patient Coalition, the Union for International Cancer Control, and the European Cancer Organisation, held an online event and distributed the letter to policymakers worldwide.
The letter represents the concerns of healthcare organizations across the globe about the short- and long-term impact of the pandemic on patients with cancer and those to yet be diagnosed. “With this letter, we call for policymakers in every country to ensure patients can access cancer screening, testing, and treatment safely,” said ACCC President Krista Nelson MSW, LCSW, OSW-C, FAOSW. “We need to identify the real impact of the pandemic on cancer services, develop and implement initiatives to mitigate that impact, and provide adequate resources to cancer programs for the long term.”
While the coronavirus has negatively affected many healthcare services, it has had a particularly significant impact on patients previously diagnosed with other diseases—including cancer. In some cases, that impact has had devastating consequences for patients. Treatments have been deferred, changed, or temporarily halted, and diagnoses have been delayed, all of which can negatively affect patient outcomes.
“The COVID-19 pandemic has severely disrupted cancer detection and care services globally: 2020 saw an approximately 40 percent drop in diagnoses of cancer,” the Joint Letter on Covid-19 and Cancer reads. “We recognise that healthcare systems are under unprecedented pressure due to the COVID-19 pandemic and that the global crisis has not ended yet, but the data show us that we need to take action to actively address the issues in cancer care if we are to continue improving outcomes.”
The letter’s signers endorse the efforts of healthcare organizations around the world to 1) ensure that patients can access diagnosis and treatment safely, 2) identify the impact of the pandemic on cancer services and design services to mitigate this, and 3) resource cancer services properly and safely for the long term.
In recognition of the immediacy of the needs of patients with cancer and their providers, the White House has declared April 2021 National Cancer Control Month. “This year, we must be especially mindful of the significant disruptions the COVID-19 pandemic is bringing to cancer care—delaying routine screening, diagnosis, and therapy,” said President Joseph Biden. “I urge Americans not to delay recommended screenings, doctor’s visits, and treatments.”
To join ACCC in the effort to mitigate COVID-19’s impact on cancer care, add your organization’s name to the Joint Letter on Covid-19 and Cancer here. The letter will remain open until April 21.
For more information and resources that address the issues in the cancer care community raised by COVID-19, visit ACCC’s Coronavirus Resource Page, with links to webinars, articles, blog posts, podcasts, and a suite of other resources for cancer programs and practices.
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