Select Page

While much of the medical world has been understandably focused on facing the ongoing pandemic, there are other areas that naturally require attention, too. In light of the pandemic, many new technological developments have been made and implemented that not only improve healthcare when it comes to telehealth and the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19, but also change other key areas of health. One such area is that of cancer diagnosis, treatment, and care, which has been impacted by the pandemic in major ways.

 

Diagnostic Delays

Since the beginning of the pandemic, one notable impact of the coronavirus on cancer patients is a higher number of delays for cancer screenings, dropping between 50% and 75% from normal numbers in a study conducted in England. This impact is a largely negative one, as patients are required to wait for longer periods of time before getting tested, which in the worst case scenario, could mean that, by the time they receive their diagnosis, it is too late to treat the condition. Fewer general practitioners were referring patients to get cancer screenings, as well, out of caution for the patients; in the same vein, the number of urgent referrals also decreased. 

In order to resume normal levels of cancer screenings and diagnoses, medical facilities must make a massive effort to ensure that patients will be safe when they come to get their screenings; though the initial delay in diagnostics had a detrimental impact on the wellness of patients, the timeless lesson learned is that it is the duty of medical professionals and facilities to guarantee the safety and security of their patients in order to provide proper care and guidance. 

 

Artificial Intelligence

Over the years, the integration of artificial intelligence and machine learning into the health industry has been slow but successful. When it comes to diagnosing cancer, one new program in particular looks to be promising. Led by Oxford, the AI in question is specifically geared toward detecting cancer in the lungs, as this condition is the primary cause of death of individuals in the United Kingdom. This project aims to promote an earlier and more accurate diagnosis of lung cancer in order to allow for prompt treatment and a higher quality of life over all.

 

Telehealth

Those with compromised immune systems or chronic conditions like cancer are at a high risk of contracting and suffering from complications associated with COVID-19. At the beginning of the pandemic, individuals who fit these descriptions were advised to distance themselves from others, more so than their peers. While this recommendation would be difficult enough on its own, cancer patients often require additional medical care, making restrictions on traveling and social interaction particularly challenging.

Thanks to telehealth, however, cancer patients have been able to stay in contact with their doctors from afar. Paired with fitness trackers and other health apps that can help patients document their symptoms, activity levels, and general mood, telehealth programs keep patients and doctors connected without necessitating physical contact. Of course, for some treatments and procedures, in-person visits are essential, but limiting those when possible and utilizing the advancements made in telehealth have proven to be effective.

 

In light of the ongoing pandemic—and in some cases, inspired by it—technology geared toward the diagnosis and treatment of cancer will continue to adapt in order to provide the best service and care. While the pandemic has certainly done considerable harm to many individuals and independent sectors, it has also paved the way for advanced medical care and discoveries that will be revolutionary in healthcare. In the case of cancer diagnostics and treatment, this technological shift has already begun to make a difference; further development could impact the healthcare industry in even more pronounced and productive ways.