It’s been almost a year since COVID became part of our daily lives. We may be getting used to restrictions, masks and handwashing, but we still find ourselves dealing with an extraordinary situation which we all hope won’t last long.
During the last few months, our concern has been focused on trying to do everything possible to avoid catching COVID, often forgetting about other conditions that are still with us, such as cancer or heart disease.
Over the last few years, cancer treatments have advanced greatly and survival and recovery rates have also increased. This is largely due to preventative measures, health checks and screening programmes that enable early detection of diseases at an initial stage. As a result treatments are less aggressive and recovery rates considerably higher.
The block on healthcare during recent months has led to many specialist appointments and follow-up consultations being delayed. These checks are essential for disease prevention and control for those with initial symptoms. Early detection directly affects the patient’s survival and prognosis.
Dr Alejandro Riquelmen, oncologist at HC Cancer Center confirms, “In the last few months there has been a decrease in patients diagnosed at an early stage, at the same time there has been an increase in patients arriving with more advanced diseases, often reducing treatment options and opportunities for recovery.” He recommends not to delay health checks, even when symptom free, It is the best way to prevent conditions such as breast or colon cancer.
The most important investigations for detecting certain types of cancer, when there is no family history, include colonoscopy from the age of 50, mammography in women from the age of 45, and periodic gynaecological or prostate checks.
However, if you have contracted COVID in the last few months, a post-COVID check-up is also recommended. It has been demonstrated that despite the absence of severe symptoms, this disease can lead to issues that are not necessarily related to the most commonly known symptoms. It is important to detect these in time before they develop into a more serious illness. Dr Salvador Álvarez, Medical Director and specialist in family medicine at HC Marbella, recommends undergoing a post-COVID check-up, whatever your age and irrespective of whether your symptoms were severe enough to require hospitalisation.
During this check-up you will undergo a personal assessment including analysis of oxygen saturation, blood pressure, heart rate, chest auscultation and temperature. Hospitals have used this period of pandemic preparing and implementing increasingly exhaustive safety measures whilst creating COVID-free spaces, aiming to minimise the risk of infection so that normal activity may continue.
Do not postpone your appointments and check-ups, detection at the right time can save your life.