The number of cancer diagnoses has fallen sharply as a result of COVID-19. The greatest decline in cancer diagnoses was found in skin cancer. Although the number of referrals is now (almost) back to the old level in all regions (source: NZa), the number of skin cancer diagnoses is still below expectations. Melanomas alone, the most malignant form of skin cancer, have nearly 900 fewer diagnosed than expected based on average figures; a decrease of 41%, compared to the figures of the past five years.
Importance of early discovery
The professional association of pathologists (NVVP) and dermatologists (NVDV) conclude this on the basis of a preliminary analysis of trends in pathology diagnoses. Dermatologists emphasize through their professional association the importance of early detection and call on everyone to go to their GP with a suspicious place.
Although the number of referrals to dermatology has now returned to the old level, the ‘backlog’ in the number of skin cancer diagnoses has not yet been caught up. In the period week 10-19, 888 fewer melanomas (41%) were diagnosed. A clear upward trend in the number of diagnoses is not yet visible in the last weeks (up to and including week 22).
Melanomas are the most malignant form of skin cancer, and delayed diagnostics can have profound implications for treatment and prognosis. Early recognition is therefore essential. Dermatologists appeal to everyone to go to their GP with a suspicious place and not to postpone it.
Updates and more details will follow in the coming weeks to estimate the health effects of the delayed diagnoses.
This press release is an initiative of the NVDV, the scientific association of dermatologists, together with the NVVP, the scientific association of pathologists.