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Your Healthy Family: Rise in cancer is unintended consequence of pandemic

Posted at 8:19 AM, Apr 18, 2022
and last updated 2022-04-18 09:50:22-04

NAPLES, Fla. — A doctor at NCH Healthcare System said one unintended consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic is a rise in cancer patients, especially patients with late stage cancer.

During the height of the pandemic, Dr. David Lindner — the Subdivision Head of Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine at NCH Healthcare System — said COVID-19 took over everything.

"It was COVID, COVID, COVID, and COVID. Basically all consuming,” he said.

Dr. Lindner said that meant other things, like preventative care, weren't happening as usual.

"Screening, mammograms, colonoscopies, labs, X-rays, doctors visits, everything just got thrown to the wayside," he said. "One of the big unintended consequences is now we are seeing that some of these problems have come home to roost.”

Dr. Lindner said NCH Healthcare System is seeing a rise in lung cancer patients, especially patients with late stage cancer.

“Compared to the past, what we're seeing is that these cancers are more advanced. So instead of us diagnosing stage one and two, where surgical cure and other options of therapy are available, we've unfortunately seen an upswing in advanced stage three and four cancers," Dr. Lindner said.

In stage three and four, there are fewer treatment options and ways to cure the cancer. Dr. Lindner also said another unintended consequence of this pandemic, is that tobacco made an upswing.

"Why? Well, many people who were smokers, you have the stress of the pandemic, they unfortunately lit up again or continued to smoke," he said.

Smoking increases a person's risk of lung disease and lung cancer. Dr. Linder said if you haven't already, now is the time to get screened — and not just for lung cancer.

"Women who have not gotten their mammograms, men who have not been checked out for prostate cancer — it's time," Dr. Lindner said.

He said people who have a history of tobacco use and are older than 50 should get screened for lung cancer.