16 September 2020

Cancer surgeries and investigations show major drops in April

Communicable Disease COVID-19 Live blog

Welcome to The Medical Republic‘s COVID Catch-Up.

It’s the day’s COVID-19 news in one convenient post. Email bianca@biancanogrady.com with any tips, comments or feedback.

16 September

  • The number of investigations for colorectal cancer during April 2020 was half that performed in March, and imaging procedures for breast cancer decreased around 37%, according to a report from Cancer Australia.
    The organisation looked at MBS claims data for cancer-related medical services and procedures from January to June 2020 to assess the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on skin, breast and colorectal cancers.
    This revealed the surgical treatments for malignant skin cancers decreased by 18% from March to April, and non-surgical treatments decreased by 30%. These figures improved during May but in June, there were still around 10% fewer surgical and non-surgical procedures being performed compared to March.
    Imaging procedures for breast cancer decreased by 37%, although this returned to normal levels by June, and biopsy procedures decreased by one-quarter. Breast cancer-related surgical procedures decreased by one-third from March to April and while use of these services has since increased, it was still down by one-quarter in June.
    For colorectal cancer, the number of colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies decreased by 55% from March to April, and polyp removal procedures decreased by 57%. Overall, colorectal cancer surgeries were 16% lower in May than in March and April.
    “Any potential delays in diagnoses and treatment in response to these reductions in services may lead to more advanced stage of cancer at diagnosis and poorer patient outcomes,” the report’s authors wrote.
  • Just in case there was any doubt about it, a study has found that mask-wearing, hand-washing and physical distancing are all significantly associated with a lower risk of getting COVID-19.
    Writing in Emerging Infectious Diseases, researchers from Thailand reported the outcomes of a retrospective case-control study involving 211 asymptomatic individuals who were contacts of known COVID-19 patients and later tested positive for SARS-CoV-2, and 839 controls who were also in contact with COVID-19 patients but never tested positive. Nearly 85% of those involved with the study were considered to have had high-risk exposure to the COVID-19-infected person.
    The study found that those who maintained a distance of more than one metre from the COVID-19 patients had a 85% lower odds of SARS-CoV-2 infection, those who were in contact for less than 15 minutes had a 76% lower odds, those who were handwashing often had a 67% lower odds, and those who wore a mask all the time they were in contact with the COVID-19-positive patient had a 77% lower odds.
    Wearing a mask only some of the time did not significantly lower the risk of infection, and sharing cigarettes with the infected person, somewhat unsurprisingly, was associated with a greater than three-fold increase in the risk of infection.
  • Trump says COVID-19 will go away due to “herd mentality”.
    OK then.

  • Here are today’s confirmed COVID-19 infection numbers from around Australia, to 9pm Tuesday:
    National – 26,738, with 816 deaths
    ACT – 113 (0)
    NSW – 4176 (7)
    NT – 33 (0)
    QLD – 1150 (1)
    SA – 466 (0)
    TAS – 230 (0)
    VIC – 19,911 (42)
    WA – 659 (0)


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