Liver tumours detected in cancer patients due to delay in follow-up visits during Covid

Patients with chronic liver disease should have been on regular 6-month follow-up scans to detect on early tumours. But due to the pandemic-induced limitations, larger tumours and more advanced have been detected.
Liver tumours detected in cancer patients due to delay in follow-up visits during Covid

CHENNAI: The pandemic has had a devastating impact on cancer diagnosis and its treatment. Many researchers around the globe, including India, have highlighted reduction in follow-up visits of cancer patients and a major fall in the referral of new cases.

During the first 2 lockdowns, partial shutdown of non-COVID-related services at hospitals, clinics, private labs, and scan centres has led to delays in in-patient consultations. Many COVID-related deaths also greatly increased the public’s fears of getting infected at healthcare centres.

But now that life is returning to normal, and patients have started visiting hospitals again, there’s an increase in the number of missed liver tumours and advanced liver cancers in our clinics.

Patients with chronic liver disease should have been on regular 6-month follow-up scans to detect on early tumours. But due to the pandemic-induced limitations, larger tumours and more advanced have been detected.

Liver tumours have excellent outcomes and cure rates when they’re small. Larger tumours need more complex multi-disciplinary treatments and sometimes may even be past the curable stage.

Liver tumours develop insidiously and grow for a long time before they show significant symptoms. The amazing adaptive ability of the liver ensures that the tumour itself does not usually cause any specific symptoms.

Most liver tumours are diagnosed when patients get screened for non-specific symptoms such as abdominal pain, gastritis, loss of appetite, or weight loss. Given the nature of these symptoms, it’s very easy for us to ignore these amid a pandemic.

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