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About 8,600 lung cancer patients in Japan are feared to have missed the opportunity to receive treatment last year, the Japan Lung Cancer Society said Monday.

The estimate, calculated based on a nationwide survey, reflected cancer screening cancellations and people’s reluctance to visit doctors amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to the society.

“To have cancer detected without delay, it is important to get screened on a regular basis,” a society official said.

The society conducted the survey in late October last year on university hospitals and hospitals specializing in cancer treatment in Japan. It analyzed data collected from 118 institutions across the country.

According to the survey results, the number of lung cancer patients who underwent surgery or chemotherapy in January-October 2020 stood at 18,562, down about 6.6 % from January-October 2019.

As around 130,000 people in Japan are estimated to newly contract lung cancer every year, it works out that 6.6 % of them, or some 8,600 people, failed to receive treatment last year, according to the society.

The survey also found that hospitals with numerous coronavirus patients tended to treat fewer lung cancer patients.

Hokkaido was the only region in Japan that saw the number of new lung cancer patients increase, by 0.4%. The rate of decrease in the number of such patients stood at 9.7% for the Kanto region excluding Tokyo, at 8.8% for the Hokuriku region, 7.9% for Tokyo, 7.6% for the Chubu region and 6.8% for the Tohoku region, the survey found.

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