NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) — Since the outbreak, COVID-19 has been front and center pushing back cancer and other illnesses.
Dr. Charles Fuchs heads up Yale Cancer Center.
“We had to prioritize the people who needed cancer therapy now, while at the same time ensuring that the health system could address the needs of patients who were infected with COVID,” said Fuchs.
Fear of the virus impacted patients seeking cancer treatment.
Dr. Fuchs is also physician-in-chief of Smilow Cancer Hospital, among hospitals nationwide with a decline of patients.
He says, “Our volume is really down only marginally of patients getting treated. And I think that’s really a credit of both to the courage of our patients and their families as well as the staff.”
Now with stringent safety measures like testing staff and patients for COVID-19, they are back to preventing cancer, research and therapy.
“If you have concerns about cancer,” says Dr. Fuchs, “If you need cancer surgery. If you need cancer therapy or just need a diagnostic study, it is safe to come back.”
Dr. Fuchs does worry about the delay in screenings and other procedures because of COVID.
“I am worried that people are not getting the tests they need. There’s a new technology where you can do a screening CT-scan for lung cancer among people at risk for lung cancer because they smoke or other reasons. The technologies now are incredible and we know the number of those tests are way down.”
And that pause could affect the recent significant strides against cancer.
“I am worried that when we look at the data for this calendar year for 2020 across the U.S. that we are going to realize we missed opportunities to find cancer early,” he goes on to say, “But we’re going to get back to it and we’re going to catch up.”
Clinical trials are resuming with major announcements looming.
Exciting advancements at Yale Cancer Center with researchers announcing a new lung cancer drug that Dr. Fuchs says could be a game changer increasing survival rate to more than 80 percent.
There’s also a drug for prostate cancer, that in a Phase One clinical trial, shows great promise for men who’ve exhausted all treatments.