The increasing size of tumours due to COVID-19 related delay

Hyderabad:  Brain tumours, if neglected are very dangerous. Their size gets increased and that will lead to so many issues. People who get these tumours usually go to doctors and undergo surgeries wherever they are needed. But, after the COVID pandemic, people who suffer from tumours were not coming to hospitals with the fear of contracting the disease because of the visit. As the COVID is now in control and experts Dr. Manas Panigrahi of KIMS hospitals are available in the city, patients have started visiting their doctors from September onwardsDr. Manas Panigrahi, Senior Consultant Neuro and Spine Surgeon, KIMS hospitals explain these developments.

“Every 4-5 people per lakh of the Indian population are getting brain tumours. We can avoid losing a valuable life if only we identify the tumour at right time and go for surgery. Delay may lead to life threats too. Exactly this has happened in the pandemic time. There were so many COVID-19 patients in Hyderabad hospitals in July and August. So, those who suffer from the tumours have avoided hospital visits and some of them even didn’t undergo a scan too. They have fears of contracting COVID-19 if they come to the hospital. Social taboo is also a reason for their absence. Some of them thought of a peaceful death in their own house, besides their kith and kin too. I have seen such a case. He is 69 years old male. He needed surgery for a brain tumour and needed dialysis too for kidney damage. He is supposed to come for surgery in March. But come to the hospital in June. By that time, the size of the tumour has also grown double. He even contracted COVID-19. Surgery is a bit risky and they are not prepared to take it. They went home and he passed away there.”

Increased costs a major reason

“Recurred cancer’s intensity is more. The tumour grows faster than earlier. Having COVID-19 and tumours leads to increased costs. The cost will increase 3 to 4 times if a brain tumour patient is having COVID too. The disposable equipment, COVID-19 Operation Theatre, ICU and ward, all these will fetch more cost than usual. Normal brain tumour surgery will cost around Rs. 3-4 lakhs, whereas for the COVID-19 patients, it will be around Rs. 12 Lakhs. This phenomenon is also causing some patients to avoid hospital visit for surgery.”

The increasing size of the tumor

“Brain tumours are of 1, 2, 3, and 4 grades. Of these, grade 3 and 4 tumours grow rapidly. Grade 4 tumour grows within a week too. If such people get COVID-19, the tumour growth will not stop until the COVID-19 gets controlled. They may die because of either of the problems. Grade 1 and 2 patients can wait for the COVID-19 treatment and then go for brain tumor surgery. Recently we have treated a grade3 patient for COVID. We will perform the tumor surgery on him in the next week. He has a tumor of around 7 cm. We define tumor grade by its characteristics. We will see whether it’s growing rapidly or slowly. If the tumors that form in the front part of the brain are larger than 5 cm, they are bigger tumors. Some tumors form between the neck and head. We call them bigger even if they are more than 3 cm. In case if it is in the center of the brain, even a 1 cm tumor is also bigger. Nowadays almost all patients are coming with bigger tumors. The delay in the visit is the reason behind the increase in size. The number of people with bigger tumors has almost doubled.”

Aged people being neglected

“People are considering the patient’s age too for brain tumour surgery. If the patient is young, they are coming forward. Whereas the elder people are being neglected a lot in the present time of the pandemic. This attitude is wrong. Elderly people will have more chances of contracting COVID if they get in touch with any positive patient at the hospital. The mortality rate is also high among elder COVID patients. The increased cost of treatment to such people is also discouraging some to avoid treatments” explains Dr. Manas Panigrahi.