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Coronavirus Is Changing Cancer Treatment At Dana-Farber

BOSTON (CBS) - For the past two months, hospitals across the nation have been consumed with the fight against coronavirus. And many would-be patients, with other medical conditions, have put off procedures for fear of contracting the virus in the hospital.

"There's a bit of a backlog in health care right now," said Dr. Matt Yurgelun, of Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "Things that are truly elective have been put off."

Jim Nauen, who has stage 3 cancer, said he is very "sensitive" to social distancing. (WBZ-TV)

While Dana-Farber focuses on fighting cancer, here, too, COVID-19 has changed things. Patients can no longer be accompanied by a loved one. And every patient is screened when they walk in.

"Having a compromised immune system as a cancer patient makes you more sensitive to social distancing," said Jim Nauen, who's undergoing treatment for stage 3 cancer at Dana-Farber. "Most recently, my tumor has been reacting very favorably to chemo treatments, so now surgery as a cure is an option."

Doctors across the state are expecting an uptick in returning patients, and new ones, when the COVID-19 numbers start going down. They say it's not always wise to put off some treatments.

"We in the medical community have to be ready to ramp back up safely and not keep kicking the can down the curb," said Dr. Yurgelun.

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