New Cancer Diagnosis Decreased In Early Months of the Coronavirus Pandemic

Healthcare professionals have noted a sharp downward trend in the number of new identified cases of some of the most common cancers that began at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Research Indicates a Downward Trend in Diagnoses of Common Cancers

Using data from diagnostic lab tests conducted by Quest Diagnostics for six of the most common types of cancer, researchers found that, compared to the prior year as a baseline, the average weekly number of new cancer diagnoses fell over 40 percent during the first month of the COVID-19 pandemic. This affected breast, lung, gastric, colorectal, pancreatic, and esophageal cancers. A similar study also found a significant decrease in cancer screenings, diagnoses, and start of cancer treatments. 

Why Cancer Diagnoses Fell During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Study authors noted that cancer diagnoses sharply fell during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic as routine doctor’s visits were cancelled as part of the lockdowns implemented to halt the spread of COVID-19. Medical professionals, lab testing capacity, and medical equipment were also redirected to hospitals to help treat the surge of critically ill patients during the early days of the pandemic. 

With measures now in place to ensure the safety of patients in doctors’ offices and hospitals, physicians are encouraging patients to come back in to perform delayed cancer screenings. Although experts have not seen that the delay in screenings caused by the pandemic have resulted in cancers being diagnosed at a later stage than they otherwise would have without the pandemic, some doctors note that while some cancer tumors may grow slowly, meaning that a delay of a few months may make no difference in the patient’s treatment, faster-growing tumors may mean that the delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic may end up negatively impacting a patient’s treatment and prognosis.

Read more: What Is Physician Malpractice?

When Delays in Cancer Diagnosis May Constitute Medical Malpractice

Now that COVID-19 safety protocols have been implemented in healthcare facilities, doctors should be contacting patients whose routine cancer screenings were put off last year to come back in to get those screenings done as soon as possible. If healthcare professionals allow patients to slip through the cracks by not reaching out to them to encourage them to get their routine screenings done, it may result in medical malpractice if a patient’s cancer goes undiagnosed long enough for the cancer to progress to a more aggressive stage or spread throughout the patient’s body. 

It can be easy for a person who had to cancel a cancer screening appointment last year due to the pandemic to completely forget about reaching back out to their physician to schedule an appointment in 2021. The standard of care may require providers to proactively contact those patients whose appointments the provider had to cancel in 2020. If it takes several years before a patient remembers to go back to the doctor or for the doctor to contact their patients to come in for delayed screenings, patients who would have their cancer detected now may be entitled to pursue a claim of malpractice if further delay in screening results in their cancer being allowed to develop into a more aggressive stage.

Read more: How A Misdiagnosis Results In Medical Malpractice

Contact A Medical Malpractice Attorney for a Consultation About Your Delayed Diagnosis Case in New Jersey

Were you or a loved one injured due to medical malpractice in New Jersey? Then you need to talk to an experienced medical malpractice lawyer as soon as possible for guidance on how to proceed. The Chatham delayed diagnosis attorneys at Blume, Forte, Fried, Zerres & Molinari are prepared to assist you with your legal claim. We represent victims of negligent surgeons, doctors, nurses, and pharmacists throughout New Jersey, including Parsippany, Mount Olive, Rockaway, and Union City. Call us today at (973) 635-5400 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a consultation. We have an office conveniently located at One Main St., Chatham, NJ 07928, as well as offices in Jersey City, Sea Girt, and North Bergen.

The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.