Discussing Small Cell Carcinoma with Dr. Erin SchenkMar 3, 2021
Small cell carcinoma is a rare cancer that often spreads aggressively and has no associated screening procedures which poses a challenge for medical professionals in the fight against cancer. According to Erin Schenk, MD, PhD, cancers often don’t cause pain until they’re invading other key organs, meaning that even if patients bring their concerns to the attention of doctors and the appropriate tests and therapies are conducted, there are still instances of untimely deaths because of cancer.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, physicians have seen patients put off treatments and screenings and as such are starting to see how the pandemic has impacted current cancer patients and newly diagnosed cancer patients.
“In a number of studies across the world, what’s being reported is that patients are presenting to our offices with more advanced disease than they were pre-COVID. People putting off their usual health screenings is really going to have an impact in years to come in terms of patients being diagnosed with cancer that is more advanced, as well as other chronic, controllable diseases like high blood pressure, diabetes, and heart disease. This will set the health of the world back quite a bit" says Dr. Schenk.
While there is no screening for small cell carcinoma certain subtypes of this cancer can run in families, which is why Dr. Schenk encourages that people engage in discussions with family members who were diagnosed to determine cancer type and age of diagnosis.
“If they were under 50 years old, that’s often a clue to us that we might need to do some additional evaluation to really take a deep dive into the genetics of the patient and the family to see if they have predispositions to some of these cancers" says Dr. Schenk.