With much of the world putting most, if not all, of its resources behind the COVID-19 pandemic, it seems other illnesses have been left behind, including cancer.
Now, this isn’t to say COVID-19 is not to be taken seriously, of course, it is. It’s caused over five million deaths around the globe.
Here in Canada, the coronavirus has caused close to 30,000 deaths nationwide.
But with all major global powers putting so many resources, money and time into the pandemic, it begs the question: why can’t we do the same for cancer?
According to the Ontario Medical Association, COVID-19 has led to an estimated backlog of 15.9 million surgeries in Ontario alone.
Last spring, the province of Ontario instructed hospitals to halt-non emergency surgeries as COVID-19 filled intensive care units (ICUs).
This, of course, meant all non-emergency and non-essential surgeries were stopped.
John Hopkins University classifies elective surgery as needing to be done to improve someone’s quality of life but not for a life-threatening condition.
However, in some cases, elective surgery can be done for cancer.
Let’s say someone’s mom has breast cancer: an easy form of cancer to treat before it spreads to the rest of the body. Then that person’s mother sits at home and, eventually, her breast cancer spreads to the rest of her body and she ends up needing a more serious form of treatment.
Is that really how we want to handle these cases? What we should be doing is balancing COVID-19 and cancer as equally as possible.
On top of that, when, or if, this whole thing ends, researchers and scientists need to shift their focus from the coronavirus to cancer.
It may seem radical but it seems big companies don’t want to get their hands dirty and fund the research to end cancer for good.
If we can find a vaccine for something that is relatively new to us as quickly as we did, why not do the same for cancer, disease that’s been around since 3000 BC according to the American Cancer Society.
For a disease that killed 599,601 people in the United States in 2019 alone to not be a priority is appalling. Statista predicted that in 2020 there would be over 80 thousand deaths in Canada due to cancer.
It is worth noting there are reasons why COVID-19 has slowed cancer research around the world, why we still haven’t found a cure and why a vaccine for COVID-19 was made instead of one for cancer.
First of all, there are over 200 types of cancer so that makes it hard for scientists to cure cancer when they have so many other diseases to manage.
Some scientists have shifted focus away from curing cancer to managing it instead, which means doing surgery, removing tumours and having patients go through chemotherapy.
So it’s a very complex disease and situation.
As for the vaccine, the pandemic led to global funding and collaborative efforts for a vaccine.
Plus, most of the work for the vaccine was done before the pandemic started. So scientists and researchers just used what they already knew and applied it to COVID-19.
Even with all of that, cancer should still be a priority – no matter what.
Once this pandemic ends, society needs to reevaluate how we are handling cancer because if we do not, people will continue to die and suffer from cancer: something that has been a part of our lives since ancient Egypt.
That is not right at all.