Cancer screening programs of varying types have been disrupted by Covid-19, although wider diagnosis remains available, depending on location.
Unconnected with the coronavirus pandemic, an NHS dermatology contractor in Kent is being investigated on failures which include poor referrals for diagnosis. This relates to a broad spectrum of conditions, with skin cancer at the top of the list.
Local health authorities are making efforts to ensure everyone who should be seen has an appointment as soon as possible. They still admit that the damage caused may not become clear until well in the future.
We mention this as in a sense, the historic situation in Kent mirrors outcomes during the pandemic. Due to individual decisions, or overloaded hospital facilities, patients have not been seen when they should be.
Covid Related Changes
Time has now allowed comparative research into medical treatment during the pandemic, or lockdowns. Data clearly shows that on a national basis, people have had issues accessing diagnosis, or treatment.
Lack of timely care can worsen the outcome of a number of skin conditions. Skin cancers in particular respond well to early treatment, delay can make success rates fall from 100% to less than half that figure.
There is a degree of contradiction in the data, certain conditions may have been reduced in terms of new cases, through changing behaviour. Equally, others may have been exacerbated, by practical and psychological factors.
Skin cancers are not however a short term symptom, in most cases, their origin lies in a sunlit beach many years ago. There is no reason to feel coronavirus causes, or worsens skin cancer as such, only due to the delay this can bring.
Improving The Path
Teledermatology, consultation by video link, has become a more established option during the pandemic. One that has worked well and had unforeseen benefits, such as reduced waiting time in certain hospitals, or direct referral to biopsy.
Other diagnostic, or treatment procedures have been honed, to reduce the time taken and contact levels. As with any crisis, helpful developments can emerge as we learn, although the overall message goes beyond this.
We completely understand why people might be reticent to attend medical facilities during the pandemic, also why some clinics fail to avoid hold ups on non Covid care. These are still barriers which need to be overcome.
Good quality, specialist medical centres have procedures in place to protect visitors. They are also dedicated to their areas of expertise, which again reduces risk compared to general health centres.
If you have concerns about a change in your skin, wherever you are, please arrange to see a consultant dermatologist. Your appointment will be handled with care and speedy diagnosis is the best way to avoid deeper treatment.
Telephone, or video consultations should be available to you if preferred, along with individual skin cancer treatment, to prevent unwanted outcomes.