Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA) Atlanta has received enough of the Pfizer vaccine for every employee. This is an incredibly important development given that CTCA staff are caring for cancer patients, one of the most high-risk populations. CTCA employees received their vaccinations last week.
A recent American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) survey shows that more than two-thirds of Americans report that their scheduled cancer screenings, such as mammograms and colonoscopies, have been delayed or skipped during the COVID-19 crisis. Another estimate shows there were 60% fewer breast, colon and cervical cancer exams from mid-March to mid-June compared with years prior.
As COVID-19 cases continue to surge in Atlanta and across the country, the long-term effects on cancer severity and survivorship are becoming staggeringly apparent. In fact, studies predict an 11.9% increase in colorectal cancer mortality worldwide and an estimated 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancers alone in the next 10 years due to pandemic-related delays in screening and treatment – a number that is now considered drastically conservative.
According to a study in JAMA, during the pandemic, the weekly number of newly diagnosed cancer patients with 6 common cancer types fell by 46.4% (from 4310 to 2310), with significant declines in all cancer types, ranging from 24.7% for pancreatic cancer to 51.8% for breast cancer.
Cancer death risk rises approx. 10% for every month of delayed care, according to a study published Nov. 4 in The BMJ.
Emory also reported the start of vaccinating their frontline health care workers on December 17, beginning with an emergency room nurse. “We are excited to begin the process of vaccinating our frontline staff members today who have courageously battled this pandemic caring for patients with COVID-19 for so many months,” says Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, CEO of Emory Healthcare. “Even with this excitement, we will still need to comply with three W’s — Wearing a mask; Washing your hands; and Watching your distance — now and in the coming months to prevent further spread of COVID-19.”