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Doctors worry they won’t be able to help every cancer patient diagnosed, treated late due to COVID-19

As Canada begins to emerge from the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, specialists who work with cancer patients say they’re concerned they won’t be able to help everyone whose serious cancers have either gone undetected or been diagnosed late because of the crisis.

Changes to the way patient care is managed are needed to increase capacity and treat as many people as possible, including longer operating-room hours and a continued all-hands-on-deck approach from COVID-weary health-care workers, said Dr. Tony Eskander, a head and neck surgical oncologist at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto.

Data on the number of patients presenting with more advanced cancers due to COVID-19 delays will not be available for another year or more, Eskander said.

LISTEN | Delayed diagnosis: 

White Coat Black Art26:31Delayed diagnosis

But he told Dr. Brian Goldman, host of CBC Radio’s White Coat, Black Art, that among his oncology colleagues, there are “many stories of patients who either have not sought out medical attention because of fear of catching COVID from coming to the hospital” or patients who could only access virtual care.

As a result, physicians are seeing patients with more advanced cancers, Eskander said.

While there is no estimate of the size of the surgical backlog nationwide, in Quebec alone, where the provincial government announced a plan last week to tackle its long wait-list, there are about 145,000 people waiting for surgeries. Health Minister Christian Dubé said it will take until March 2023 to get that number down to an even 100,000. Read more on this story here.

Airborne protest

Soccer Football – Euro 2020 – Group F – France v Germany – Football Arena Munich, Munich, Germany – June 15, 2021 A Greenpeace protestor glides on to the pitch before the match Pool via REUTERS/Alexander Hassenstein TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY (Alexander Hassenstein/Reuters)

(Alexander Hassenstein/Reuters)

A Greenpeace protestor glides to the pitch before the start of the Euro 2020 match between France and Germany on Tuesday in Munich. Prior to landing, the pilot hit camera wires attached to the stadium roof and careened over spectators’ heads. Debris fell on the field and main grandstand, injuring two people and narrowly missing France coach Didier Deschamps. A Greenpeace spokesperson apologized for the botched protest and the injuries it caused. Munich police are investigating potential violations of the criminal code and aviation act.

In brief

Annamie Paul’s leadership of the federal Green Party is safe — for now — after party brass decided late Tuesday not to kick-start a process that could have ultimately ousted her as leader of the party. The party’s federal council — its governing body — held an emergency meeting last night that lasted more than 3½ hours. Officials were expected to hold a vote on whether to trigger a complex process under the party’s constitution, which could’ve declared no-confidence in Paul’s leadership. That vote did not end up taking place, multiple sources with knowledge of the meeting told CBC News. Instead, sources say, the federal council adopted a separate motion asking Paul to publicly “repudiate” one of her former senior advisers, Noah Zatzman, who accused many politicians — including unspecified Green MPs — of discrimination and antisemitism in a social media post last month. Read more on this story here.

The Conservatives are calling on Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to fire Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, arguing he’s lost the confidence of the Armed Forces over the military sexual misconduct crisis. During a heated exchange in question period Tuesday, Conservative Leader Erin O’Toole accused Sajjan of mishandling the crisis on a number of occasions over the past six years. O’Toole said Sajjan failed to get the problem under control by fully implementing the recommendations in a landmark report released in 2015. Sajjan said he wouldn’t take advice from the Conservatives on military matters because O’Toole’s party cut the military budget while in government. Read more on the Conservatives’ call for Sajjan’s removal. 

More than 6,700 prisoners across Canada have tested positive for COVID-19, as of June 9. On average, 268 out of every 1,000 prisoners in provincial jails tested positive for COVID-19 this past year, according to a CBC analysis of cumulative cases reported between March 2020 and June 2021. In federal prisons, it’s around 126 infected for every 1,000. Both figures are far higher than the 37 cases per 1,000 Canadians found in the general population. Despite infection rates being six times higher in jails than in the general population and a recommendation from the National Advisory Committee on Immunization to vaccinate incarcerated individuals as early as Phase 2 — before healthy Canadians under 60 — CBC News found that in some facilities, prisoners waited until May for their chance at a first dose. Read more about vaccinating Canada’s prison population. 

WATCH | Some inmates waited until May for COVID-19 vaccine: 

People who wear makeup such as lipstick or mascara may be absorbing or licking up potentially harmful ingredients that hang around for decades in the environment, according to a new study by researchers in the U.S., Canada and Switzerland. Those ingredients, known as polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), are rarely disclosed on labels, making them hard to avoid, said the study published Tuesday in the journal Environmental Science & Technology Letters. PFAS are a group of more than 4,700 human-made chemicals that contain fluorine bonded to carbon, a strong chemical bond that makes them hard to break down. That’s why they’re often referred to as “forever chemicals” by scientists. It’s also how they can accumulate to high levels over time in the body or the environment. Read more about PFAS here.

WATCH | Researchers uncover potentially toxic chemicals hiding in makeup: 

Israel said today it carried out airstrikes in the Gaza Strip after incendiary balloons were launched from Palestinian territory. The airstrikes were the first since the end of 11 days of bloody fighting in May. The latest fighting came after Israeli nationalists staged a march in East Jerusalem, which drew threats of action from Hamas, which rules Gaza. The fighting is a first test for the new Israeli coalition government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who took power on Sunday, ending Benjamin Netanyahu’s 12 years in power. Read more on the developments in the Middle East. 

Now for some good news to start your Wednesday: Despite the pandemic, one Ottawa couple spent their winter travelling to New York, Florida, Hawaii, Las Vegas and the Maritimes — all without leaving their house. Ruth and OJ Gallant love travelling and came up with the idea for the “house vacations” after being forced to cancel a month-long stay in Florida this past March. Their trips have included elaborate setups in their living and dining rooms with food and drink to complement each destination. “We decided that we would recreate some of our past vacations since we couldn’t go on an actual vacation,” Ruth Gallant said. Their trip to Vegas left OJ Gallant nearly naked after a tough game of strip poker, a joke for a photo that he said garnered quite a few laughs from family and friends. Read more on the couple’s ‘house vacations.’

Front Burner: Mystery at Canada’s highest security virus lab

In the summer of 2019, two scientists — a husband and wife — were marched out of Winnipeg’s National Microbiology Laboratory, the highest security lab in Canada. They were later fired, and are being investigated by the RCMP. 

Questions still abound in this story, but many experts suspect it could point to Chinese espionage. And — particularly because of this story’s ties to the Wuhan Institute of Virology — pressure is mounting on the federal government to explain what happened. 

CBC News national reporter Karen Pauls joins us to help unravel the mystery.

Front Burner21:54Mystery at Canada’s highest security virus lab

Today in history: June 16

1963: Russian cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova becomes the first woman in space.

1981: Ken Taylor, Canada’s former ambassador to Iran, is awarded the U.S. Congressional Gold Medal. Taylor received the medal from President Ronald Reagan for sheltering and engineering the escape of six Americans from Iran in 1980, during the hostage crisis.

1993: Canada’s peacekeeping mission in Cyprus ends. The 29-year mission saw 35,000 Canadian soldiers serve in Cyprus.

2001: The Italian city of Pisa celebrates the completion of 10 years of restoration work on the famous Leaning Tower. Engineers shaved 43 centimetres off the lean of the 12th-century landmark.


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