WXXI AM News

Cancer treatment at Wilmot continues amid pandemic challenges, doctors urge patients to seek care

May 21, 2020

 


The Wilmot Cancer Institute at the University of Rochester Medical Center is resuming postponed procedures and turning more to telemedicine amid the pandemic. Treatments are still ongoing.

According to URMC, some cancer surgeries were postponed during a ban on elective surgeries. That ban was lifted on April 29.

As for Roslyn Goldman, 82, she’s been receiving treatment for lymphoma throughout the pandemic. So far, she said, she feels good. 

“Mine was caught early and really fast. That’s why I think I’m doing so well. ” Goldman said. “I think if it had gone on and I was sicker, it might not be so positive right now.”

Dr. Jonathan Friedberg is Director of the James P. Wilmot Cancer Institute, and Director of Hematological Malignancies Clinical Research.
Credit URMC

While her husband was able to be with her through her first visit, she said, visitation is no longer permitted, but he is able to speak with the doctor by phone during the visit.

Director of the Wilmot Cancer Institute Jonathan Friedberg said that his biggest concern is for people who are not seeking healthcare early enough to detect cancer in its early stages.

“I think that if we’re not seeing people, those people are at the risk of being under treated and having inferior outcomes than we’ve come to expect,” Friedberg said. 

While some appointments are able to be conducted by telemedicine, he said that some appointments must be held at the hospital. Cancer patients who test positive for COVID-19 are seen in a separate unit to prevent spreading the virus, Dr. Friedberg said.

“Decision-making for those patients on whether they would get an operation or get a treatment is highly dependent on their clinical situation but in many cases, treatment may be delayed until that infection is resolved,” he said.

He said that he’s concerned doctors could lose years of progress in treating cancer because people might not seek medical attention soon enough to detect the disease in its early stages.