COVID-19 impacting patients with Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers, says GlobalData

COVID-19 could be causing patients with Hodgkin lymphoma and other cancers to delay seeking care, which in turn could delay those patients from receiving a cancer diagnosis. The pandemic may result in a slight decrease in one- to two-year cancer survival, a slight drop in the short-term diagnosed incidence rates, and a shift towards cancer diagnosis occurring at later stages. The extent of the outbreak’s impact will also depend on its duration in each country and how quickly countries can return to normal healthcare functions once it ends, says GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

Bishal Bhandari, PhD, Senior Epidemiologist at GlobalData, comments: “The impact of COVID-19 in oncology may include shortages of medical staff, decreased access to treatment, delays in diagnosis, decreased survival and increases in disease incidents related to infections. This means that those in need of urgent cancer care may not be referred to that care soon enough, as people are delaying seeking care to avoid unnecessary contact with possible sources of infection in addition to the reduced amount of care that is currently available.”

Epstein-Barr virus [EBV] is considered to be a major risk factor for Hodgkin lymphoma [HL] and is present in 40% of HL cases. There is no clear evidence that coronavirus triggers a similar response as EBV in causing HL. However, HL patients are considered to be at high risk because HL and its treatment weaken the immune system and make patients more vulnerable to COVID-19.

Bhandari concludes: “There is now strong incentive to improve telemedicine and develop effective alternative ways to provide care, which may balance out the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer epidemiology.”

More Media