The country has witnessed a spike in stage two and three breast cancer cases owing to delayed screenings and consultations as patients delay hospital visits due to Covid-19, according to a new report on Tuesday.

The report from Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi found that women seem to be putting their breast health on the backseat by neglecting their screening and visit to physicians owing to the possibility of contracting Covid-19.

“Before the Covid 19 pandemic struck we had a minimum of 200 monthly visits by women for the post-operative follow-ups which are vital to monitor the patient’ health and progress. Around 400 women used to visit for screening purposes,” Ramesh Sarin, Senior Consultant, Surgical Oncology, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, said in a statement.

However, this number has now seen a sharp decline of 70 per cent since the lockdown, the hospital said.

“In the month of August-September, we have witnessed an increase in patients with late-stage two and three cancer which implies that cancer has progressed in the past six months from a treatable stage one phase to a complex life threatening stage three,” Sarin added.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women worldwide, both in the developed and developing countries.

In India, over 1.5 lakh breast cancer patients are diagnosed annually and around 70,000 women succumb to it due to delay in detection and treatment.

It is predicted that by 2026 almost 2.3 lakh women will get breast cancer in India which is the same as in the west.

“The older you are the higher the risk for breast cancer. Women in India get breast cancer 10 years earlier than the women in the West,” said Sarin.

“In India, a minimum of 12 per cent women cancer patients are between the age of 30-40 years and 50 per cent cases between the age group of 40-50 years,” he added.

Early detection remains the best treatment in breast cancer. It is recommended that women should start having yearly mammography at the age of 40.

Women with dense breast tissue should have yearly high-quality breast ultrasound with their mammogram. When breast cancer is detected early then there is a good chance that it could be treated with breast saving surgery, the experts noted.