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Greece: Cancer neglected during pandemic

Greek medical experts say the number of cancer screenings has plunged 90% during the pandemic, depriving many people of a timely diagnosis.

“Cancer patients find themselves in a unique sort of hostage situation, because our hospitals have turned into [single-disease treatment centers] due to the coronavirus,” said Haralambos Bonanos, deputy governor of the Western Greece region and a former head of the General University Hospital of Patra.

“Many, out of fear, do not set foot in the hospitals’ outpatient clinics and others do not do the screenings they are supposed to do, and will pay for that later,” Bonanos said, adding that those who fail to vaccinate against Covid-19 and keep filling hospitals help to prolong this situation.

“The impact of the delayed diagnoses will be felt later,” said Odysseas Zoras, professor of surgical oncology at the University of Crete and president of the Patra-based Hellenic Open University. “A timely diagnosis is the secret to treatment,” he added.

Doctors also noted that, with a few tweaks in our lifestyles and mass screenings, 50% of cancer cases could be avoided, while others could, with proper treatment, turn into chronic cases with a good quality of life for survivors.

Patra is hosting a Cancer Awareness and Information Week from September 11 to 18.