Cancer surgeries potentially delayed due to COVID-19 case increase

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – Doctors at Huntsman Cancer Institute say a rise in COVID-19 hospitalizations may delay certain cancer surgeries for patients.

The biggest fear doctors have is our rolling seven-day positive average of COVID-19 will surpass 15 percent, affecting the hospital’s ability to care for patients.

Huntsman Cancer Institute Physician-In-Chief Dr. John Ward says, “Well certainly, cancer isn’t taking a holiday during this pandemic.”

Dr. Ward says the virus is not stopping cancer surgeries, but it is putting stress on the system.

“Elective surgeries may need to be delayed as hospital beds need to be filled with the patients suffering from COVID related illness,” he adds.

Dr. Ward says he and his colleagues paid close attention when the state revealed 291 Utahns are in the hospital because of the virus Tuesday.
He says it puts a greater emphasis on finding those cancer surgeries that need to be done.

“We would hate to be in a situation where we had to further cut back and prioritize COVID patients versus patients who needed cancer surgery,” says the doctor.

Chemotherapy and radiation treatments are ongoing at the Huntsman Cancer Institute.

“Things have slowed down a bit because we have to be very careful at screening patients and family members to ensure we are keeping the patients safe and the healthcare workers safe,” says Dr. Ward.

Officials at the Huntsman Cancer Institute say they will not delay any surgery that is critical to a person’s survival.

Dr. Ward says, “If people want to help, they should do what they need to do. They should wear masks, they should preserve physical distancing, they should pay attention to the guidelines that are published and not be cavalier. This is important!”

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