If any cancer patient suffers from COVID-19 infection, the risk remains comparatively higher than others, said Dr. Aroop Roy Barman, a Radiation Oncologist posted at Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Hospital, Agartala.
In an exclusive interview with Fit Northeast, cancer specialist Dr. Aroop Roy Barman said that when the cancer patients take chemotherapy, it may depress their immunity. Hence, the risk factor for cancer patients in case of the Coronavirus infection is high.
"In case of blood cancer patients or Myeloma patients, if the coronavirus attacks, the infection may spread very fast due to low immunity. They need to take special care to stay away from the Covid infection; self-isolation can be a good choice," Dr. Roy Barman told Fit Northeast.
However, the positive part is that in Tripura, the mortality rate among the cancer patients due to Covid was almost nil since the beginning of the pandemic, he said.
While speaking on the new model of the cancer treatment as prescribed in the Covid guidelines, he also threw some light on the emerging challenges. He said, "In normal course of attending the cancer patients, there are four important steps -physical inspection, touch, percussion and use of stethoscope".
"If we go by the new model in terms of Covid pandemic, there is more focus on virtual methods like video calling. In that case, there are some issues. In case of video calls, if the patients have any problem in private areas, it can't be shown. Picture is seen as sent from patients' end and Doctors may not get necessary information. Besides, many of the patients don't use smart phones", the Cancer specialist explained.
"In case of blood cancer patients or Myeloma patients, if the coronavirus attacks, the infection may spread very fast due to low immunity. …..self-isolation can be a good choice," Dr. Roy Barman told Fit Northeast.The Oncologist, however, said that some limitations were there for telephonic calls too. But it is 'very useful and beneficial' for offering suggestions. Again, some people may not like to share some intimate stories in front of family members. But, he added that this type of communication shows some overall benefits in this difficult pandemic period and it is acceptable though the issue may be still under evaluation as our experience is poor in such techniques.
Local hospitals (other than tertiary healthcare centres) may also play a vital role now in telephonic communication and suggest when to visit the hospital.
In Tripura the cancer patients who are looking for palliative care from rural parts, now have an option to avoid long-distance travel to reach Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Hospital during this Covid time since the facility has now been made available in all the eight district hospitals.
Dr. Roy Barman, who is also the State Program Officer for Palliative Care said that adequate staff including doctors and nurses have already undergone training in this field.
"Most of the Cancer patients visit hospitals in the third or fourth stage when palliative care becomes an important part even at the first day, simultaneously with curative treatment. Most of us believe that Palliative care is for patients with end stage disease only. But it is not true. And, this facility has appeared largely beneficial during the lockdown period since many of the patients couldn't visit Cancer hospital due to non-availability of regular transport," he said.
The Atal Bihari Vajpayee Regional Cancer Hospital in Agartala registers approximately 2000 new cancer patients on an average every year. There is a flow of cancer patients coming from Bangladesh also.