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Madeira with Highest Percentage of Cancer Cases

The pandemic had a negative impact on the provision of cancer care in 2020, confirms the National Cancer Registry (RON) in a report released today, which predicted the appearance of more cases than those that were registered. According to the document, in terms of territorial analysis, there is a higher percentage of new cancer cases in the Autonomous Region of Madeira.

Forecasts for 2020 – a year strongly marked by the pandemic – pointed to 60,000 to 65,000 new cancer cases, with 52,723 registered, 9% less than in 2019, and a difference of 15 to 24% compared to the forecast.

Speaking to the Lusa agency, the coordinator of the RON, Maria José Bento, was concerned about the delays in diagnosis and treatment, something that, she said, “should be expressed in the data for 2021 or 2022, translating into more morbidity and mortality” from cancer.

“One of the explanations lies in the interruption of screenings. There are pathologies where early diagnosis is very important for the success of treatment and increased rates of survival. This will probably be reflected in the following years in worse morbidity and higher mortality.”

The Director of the Epidemiology service of the Portuguese Institute of Oncology (IPO) of Porto highlighted, in addition to the stop and decrease in screenings, the fact that people, especially during the first wave of Covid-19, protected themselves more and were reluctant to seek medical help.

“For situations with stronger symptoms, more advanced cancer, people continued to use health services. However, those who only thought that their health was suffering did not seek medical attention, especially as many hospitals had been turned into Covid-19 facilities, therefore there was a dramatic decrease in the number of new cases of cancer being diagnosed.

Giving the example of the IPO in Porto, the specialist said that the great impact on the decrease in diagnoses happened in the first wave from March to May.

“In the second and third waves, the services seem more resilient,” observed Maria José Bento.

According to the epidemiologist, the decrease in the number of cancer cases was transversal to gender, age group, and all districts of the country.

The decrease was most evident in cancers of the stomach, colon, rectum, lung, breast, prostate, and thyroid.

The number of new cancer cases registered in 2018 was 50,428. In 2019, 57,878 new cases were registered, 15% more than the previous year. In 2020, the RON – a registry fed with information from all public and private hospitals – has 52,723 new cases registered. Of these, 54% were in men, 40% in people aged 60 to 74, and 7.5% in people under 45.

The most common cancers were breast, colorectal, prostate, and lung cancers. Breast cancer accounts for 31% of cancer in women, and prostate cancer accounts for 11% of cancer in men.

“Nothing deviates from the usual pattern, neither in cancer pathologies, nor in sex, nor in ages,” said Maria José Bento.

Lifestyle habits, especially smoking are said to be one of the underlying causes.

Samantha Gannon

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