Fewer cancer cases detected during epidemic

Ljubljana – Fewer cases of cancer were detected in Slovenia during the Covid-19 epidemic, which however does not mean that there was actually fewer of them, Sonja Tomšič, coordinator of the Slovenian cancer management programme in 2022-2026, told the press on Monday, as a five-day cancer awareness campaign started.

According to Tomšič, during the first wave of the epidemic 30% fewer cancer diagnoses were set than usually and in the next waves about 10% fewer.

Now that the epidemic is waning, the number of newly discovered cases is again as expected but “we still haven’t made up for the delay in discovery” caused by the epidemic, she said.

Andreja Uštar, director general of the Oncology Institute, said the epidemic had had a significant impact on the treatment of patients with cancer but the treatment had not been interrupted.

This was a major organisational and professional challenge that the institute has managed to overcome, she said, pointing to lack of staff and rooms as the main problems.

In Slovenia, more than 15,000 people are diagnosed with cancer every year or 41 a day. About 6,500 people die because of the disease every year or about 18 a day.

The number of people who develop cancer has been rising, mainly due to population ageing, Tomšič said, noting that treatment was also increasingly successful.

“In the 2012-2016 period, the five-year survival of adult patients was at 58%; for children and youth the rate was at 86%,” she said.