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Decoding Long Covid: An Oncologist Explains How Persisting Covid Symptoms Delay Cancer Care

Representational image.

Representational image.

Long covid is a terrifying factor and has the potential of increasing the rate of fatalities in cancer patients.

Decoding Long COVID
As we reach what seems to be the end of the deadly second wave of Covid-19 in India, several recovering patients stare at a long haul of dealing with persisting symptoms — now being defined as ‘long Covid’ by doctors. In light of the situation, News18 will run a 15-day series ‘Decoding Long Covid ‘where doctors with different specialisations will address concerns, recommend ways to deal with them and suggest when to seek help.

In today’s column, Dr Niti Raizada, director of Medical Oncology and Hemato Oncology and Transplant Physician at Fortis Hospital in Bengaluru, explains why delayed cancer treatment coupled with long covid symptoms have been a great challenge for patients fighting cancer.

Raizada explained that the severity of Covid infection depends on the stage of cancer and also the fitness of the patient. “If a patient is in an advanced stage of cancer and is not doing well or if the patient is elderly with comorbidities, the recovery from Covid may be delayed, which in turn, may delay their cancer treatment," she said.

For cancer patients, recovery is more complicated as post-Covid symptoms or long Covid syndrome can last for weeks or even months.

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“Such patients are likely to have chronic fatigue with extreme weakness, persistent cough, shortness of breath, palpitation, muscle pain and weakness, recurring, persistent headaches, difficulty in concentrating, as well as depression. Under such circumstances, many patients are not in the condition to re-start cancer treatment, which may aggravate their cancer," Raizada pointed out.

Therefore, long Covid is a terrifying factor and has the potential of increasing the rate of fatalities in cancer patients.

Raizada said that long covid symptoms can be persistent and often overlaps with cancer symptoms like extreme weakness and fatigue, which makes it difficult for patients to detect cancer at early stages, and can further worsen their situation by the time they reach out for cancer treatment.

“However, what has been observed so far is that some cancer patients who are doing well despite long Covid are those who have already had an early detection and could avail medical treatment despite the lockdowns," said Raizada.

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first published:June 16, 2021, 10:00 IST