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Nearly 70% of cancer patients were seen including follow-up, their imaging examinations, or even their surgeries postponed.
To avoid that patients with cancer do to new the costs of the pandemic, the Coalition priorité cancer au Québec (CPCQ) wishes that Quebec shall, before the arrival of the second wave, the universal vaccination of the population against influenza and pneumonia.
Immunization on a large scale, considers this organization to fight against cancer, would help prevent a repeat of the paralysis of the hospital network in the event of a resurgence of cases of COVID-19, before the seasonal epidemics of flu and pneumonia not in full swing.
Last winter, nearly 70 % of cancer patients have been seen including their follow-ups (35 %), their imaging examinations (15 %) or even their surgeries (8 %) deferred due to the shedding of massive medical activities exercised in the hospitals to treat victims of the COVID-19. At least, this is indicated on a survey conducted in April by the CPCQ with approximately 600 patients. This shutdown (over 6000 surgeries postponed by a week) has had a detrimental effect on the development of the disease in several patients, and this error must not be repeated, ” says Eva Villalba, executive director of the coalition.
“We must learn the lessons of the last three months and avoid repeating what we just experienced. Every winter, the emergency rooms are overflowing because of the influenza, and it must deal more with the COVID-19. It would be unacceptable to see new services for oncology put in abeyance “, she says.
In a series of recommendations surrendered last Friday to the ministry of Health, this coalition advocates for free access to all the vaccines for influenza and pneumococcal. “Pneumonia causes 135 000 visits to the emergency room in Canada, and a hospitalization with an average duration of 11.5 days. Vaccinate on a wide scale would have a major impact to keep our health system afloat, ” adds Villalba.
Community pharmacists could be leveraged for this operation immunization on a large scale, ” says the CPCQ, which also recommends that some treatments, notably chemotherapy in infusion, to be received outside of hospitals, CLSC’s or through in-home services.
“We may not know if there has been excess mortality due to cancer, because we have no national registry on cancer, nor access to figures in real time,” says Dr. Marie-Pascale Pomey is a professor of public health at the University of Montreal. “We know that the surgeries have been very slow, because the staff and the hospital beds were mobilised to deal with the pandemic. It is also known that the screening programme to the breast has been suspended for almost three months. We will need to monitor this closely, in the medium and long term, to see if there will be an excess mortality in women with breast cancer. “The quebec Program of screening of breast has resumed its course at the beginning of the month of June.
Even though about 70 % of the cancer surgeries have now resumed their normal course, many patients continue to suffer from the effects of the pandemic, physically and morally.
This is the case of Kim Rondeau, 29, who was diagnosed with breast cancer triple negative in July 2019, a rare and fast cancer. After they have undergone partial mastectomy and chemotherapy treatment last fall, Kim began discussions with his surgeon in January 2020 for a mastectomy and reconstruction of both breasts to eliminate the risk of re-offending.
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“I had to be operated on in April, but with the COVID-19, everything is complicated. Nobody gave me new. A month later, I knew by the band that this operation was regarded as “non-urgent” by the ministry of Health, because I had already had another operation and that it was now regarded as a preventive care, ” says Kim.
Even if she was able to obtain an excellent follow-up to his nurse and pivot of his oncologist, the young woman laments that the surgeon had never called back. “This is not a small cancer of anything at all that I had. If I delayed the double mastectomy, do I risk a recurrence ? I live a lot of anxiety and I feel sometimes only to make decisions, ” says this young woman who, in the absence of surgery, has begun a different chemotherapy preventive also makes it vulnerable to more serious complications if she contracted the COVID-19.
Two million doses
The ministry of Health and social Services (DHSS) reported on Monday that the amount of influenza vaccine ordered in concert with the other canadian provinces had been increased recently in anticipation of the immunization campaign 2020-2021.
Quebec expects to receive 2 million doses this year, but there are ” limits to the additional quantities that can be obtained at this time “, taking account of manufacturing lead times of several months, has informed the Duty of the ministry of Health by e-mail.
The department does not intend for the moment to rectify his shooting, but plans to expand these awareness programmes, vaccination against influenza with clients who are most vulnerable, including children and adults with chronic diseases, pregnant women, people 75 years and older and healthcare workers.