Cancer treatments interrupted due to Covid-19 pandemic, says Turkish oncology specialist

Though early diagnosis and screenings are of crucial importance in detecting and treating cancer, according to oncology specialist Halis Yerlikaya, the Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted the treatment processes of cancer patients.

Ogün Akkaya / DUVAR

According to data from Turkey’s Ministry of Health, lung and prostate cancers are the most common cancers amongst men, while breast cancer is the most prevalent form of cancer for women. For both men and women, bowel cancer is the third-most common type of cancer and the most frequent form of cancer amongst children is leukemia.

Turkish Medical Association Central Council Member and oncology specialist Halis Yerlikaya said that due the Covid-19 pandemic, there have been delays in cancer diagnosis and treatments in Turkey.

“Cancer patients need to undergo a very fast and multidisciplinary treatment process,” Yerlikaya emphasized. “But since the pandemic, all the labor in hospitals has been dedicated to coronavirus patients and other patients have suffered a great deal because of it, including cancer patients.”

According to him, as hospitals were saturated with coronavirus patients, many cancer surgeries could not be carried out and cancer patients were diagnosed belatedly, causing issues in their treatment processes.

“There are screenings that can detect cancers such as breast, colon, cervix and lung at an early stage. When we carry out the screenings, we can deliver an early diagnosis, which allows us to achieve recovery through surgery only. Chemotherapy and radiotherapy may not be needed. That’s how we can save lives,” Halis Yerlikaya added.

A survey Yerlikaya conducted in Family Health Centres across the country showed that the number of cancer screenings had decreased by 90 percent.

According to him, if the pandemic carries on, a ‘cancer pandemic’ could unfold.

The oncologist urged marked-based health policies to be relinquished in favor of a preventative approach and called on cancer patients to complete their Covid-19 vaccinations.