Cancer experts warn of supply shortages for cancer patients
Photo: Thomas Barwick / Getty Images
In view of the corona situation, experts rate the care of cancer patients in Germany as being at high risk.
The situation is increasingly worrying, according to a joint statement by the German Cancer Aid, the German Cancer Research Center (DKFZ) and the German Cancer Society (DKG).
"If the situation does not ease in the short term, there is a risk of the supply system collapsing." For seriously ill people, this would not only have short-term consequences.
"In the future, we will be confronted with many patients whose cancer was discovered too late and whose chances of recovery are reduced as a result," said DKFZ CEO Michael Baumann.
"That means: cancer mortality will skyrocket."
The three institutions call on politicians to ensure care capacities for cancer patients.
"Further waves of infection were foreseeable and now we have this supply shortage again, more dramatic than before," criticized Gerd Nettekoven, chairman of the board of the German Cancer Aid.
Politicians have failed to develop a strategy for the challenges in the health system during the pandemic.
The organizations demand, among other things, to state clearly and politically that if individual clinics are overloaded, other facilities in the respective region must take over patient care.
According to a communication from the three institutions, this wish was already formulated after the first wave.
"In the intensive care units, an occupancy rate of 80 percent is the absolute upper limit."
The German Interdisciplinary Association for Intensive Care and Emergency Medicine (Divi) has been warning of an overload in the intensive care units for weeks in view of the third corona wave.
According to a Divi register, of almost 24,000 intensive care beds registered across Germany, only 3343 are currently free.
"In the intensive care units, an occupancy rate of 80 percent is the absolute upper limit," said a director of the Divi intensive care register, Steffen Weber-Carstens from the Berlin Charité, at the beginning of April. Despite the corona pandemic, clinics would have to keep free intensive care places available for everyday operations. Otherwise, the victims of a major car accident or two or three stroke patients in one day could no longer be adequately cared for, explained a Divi spokeswoman.
In order for this to be successful, operations that can be planned are canceled or patients relocated - the clinics are switching "from regular operation to emergency operation," according to the Divi Intensive Care Register website.
This also applies to cancer patients.
According to the Divi spokeswoman, the treatment of the large number of Covid-19 patients was only possible during the second wave at the end of December and beginning of January because, for example, other patients were transferred to other wards earlier than usual.
UK: Corona pandemic also delays cancer research
In addition to the direct effects, the corona crisis could also have indirect consequences for future cancer patients. British researchers anticipate years of delay in new cancer therapies due to the pandemic. The reason for this are stricter requirements for access to research laboratories, explained the Institute of Cancer Research (ICR) in London. In the most recent lockdown, the number of scientists who have access to laboratories fell by another 30 percent. The delay could be up to two years.
"The corona pandemic is the greatest threat to cancer research for generations," said ICR boss Paul Workman.
"It's great that science has helped us get out of lockdown and return to normal, but unfortunately cancer hasn't been waiting for us - it remains as challenging as ever," Workman said, according to the PA news agency.
irb / AP / dpa