QUEBEC CITY -- Quebecers living with cancer are now living in fear of seeing their disease progress during the COVID-19 crisis.

The Canadian Cancer Society (CCS) reported this alarming fact Monday. According to the CCS, many people with cancer are anxious due in particular to the postponement or cancellation of their treatments.

Quebec Health Minister Danielle McCann said at a news conference on Monday that the decision to postpone or cancel treatment, such as a mastectomy, was not taken lightly.

She reiterated that it was essential at this time to free up hospital beds and staff in order to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.

McCann said the health care network isn't trying to put people with cancer “at risk.”

“It was well assessed by a scientific committee,” she said of the decision.

According to CCS spokesperson Andre Beaulieu, the network is currently sorting cases according to priority. He warns, however, that “you can't pause a disease like cancer.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Mar. 30, 2020.