How has COVID-19 affected breast cancer patients?

On October 19, as every year, on the initiative of the World Health Organization (WHO), the “International Breast Cancer Awareness Day” is celebrated. Taking into account that this cancer is the most common cancer in the female population worldwide, both in developed and developing countries, we know that early detection remains essential to improve the prognosis and thus the survival of our patients.

Therefore, the objective is to promote awareness in the population so that more and more women come to the appropriate controls for these check-ups.

As we all know, this year has been very difficult due to the COVID-19 pandemic and it is known that it has affected the care provided to oncology patients. In the most critical months, the impact was very varied, to the extent that in some services there was an almost total closure of the assistance activity.

Practically all the specialties involved in the Breast Units (diagnostic imaging, radiotherapy, surgery, oncological treatments…) were reduced for various reasons:

  • The thought that cancer patients are vulnerable and as a precautionary measure it was necessary to reduce their care.
  • Shortage of PPE (personal protective equipment) or drugs.
  • Saturation of the healthcare system and staff attrition.

There are always lessons to be learned from all this, bearing in mind that the recovery phase is expected to be a long process.

In the Women’s Unit of the Ruber International Hospital, we have not ceased to pay attention to our patients, as far as possible and permitted:

  • Virtual communication via Internet and telephone was implemented immediately.
  • The protocols for patient care and all the circuits have been updated on a daily basis, with the aim of guaranteeing the safety of both professionals and patients.
  • The screening programs from the consultation rooms and together with the diagnostic imaging service, were activated immediately with the end of the state of alarm. Likewise, the usual surgical activity was resumed.
See also  Demographic Winter: Egg Freezing and Assisted Reproduction

It is important to transmit tranquility and confidence to the patients so that they go to the consultations without fear of contracting infection by this coronavirus, always with the recommended protective measures (masks, hygiene, safety distance…). They should not miss routine check-ups and, of course, they should contact their specialists if they have any doubts or warning signs.

We must continue this fight, and the research, and the resources devoted to breast cancer must not stop, and our work to raise awareness and help women in the general population, of course, must not stop.