When people were asked to stay home at the beginning of the pandemic, routine preventive cancer screening was just one of many services that paused. In fact, the Centers forDisease Control and Prevention reported screening for breast, colorectal and cervical cancer dropped by more than 80% during the early months of the pandemic.
The consequences of that pause are showing up. A survey conducted by the American Society forRadiation Oncology found that radiation oncologists across the nation are reporting patients now have more advanced cancer when they are diagnosed.
“The data is still trickling in, but what we’re hearing from colleagues around the country is consistent with what we’re seeing locally — when people are diagnosed with cancer it is often at a more advanced stage than what we were experiencing four years ago, before the pandemic,” said John Strother, MD, a medical oncologist from Samaritan Hematology & Oncology Consultants.
Although many people have resumed their regular screenings since 2020, numbers are still below pre‑pandemic levels, reports Dr. Strother.
“We can’t predict the long‑term effects of these delayed screenings on cancer survivorship, but we do know that an early diagnosis of cancers like breast, colorectal, lung and cervical gives us more choices and a better chance of successful treatment,” said Dr. Strother. “Preventive care is as essential as ever. If you’re worried about visiting a clinic, talk to your doctor about your individual risk factors and ways to stay safe while getting the care you need. Cancer screening is too important to miss.”
Schedule a visit with your primary care provider to get back on track with your care. Visit samhealth.org/FindADoc to find a provider near you.