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Cancer screening plummets during a pandemic as risk shifts

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Cancer screening in the United States has plummeted since the outbreak of the pandemic almost a year ago, and health advocates are urging the public to stop postponing these potentially life-saving procedures.

More than one-third of adults did not receive the recommended cancer screening during the pandemic, according to “Don’t wait for cancer, neither should you.” Breaking news Published by the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network.

read more: Arizona Strengthens COVID-19 Vaccine With New Site, Eligibility

The fear of being infected with COVID-19 at screening centers and the unemployment that affected the coverage of insurance are one of the factors driving this dangerous trend.

“The pandemic has actually benefited cancer and the risk balance has changed significantly,” Jeff Feliz, executive vice president of the Southern Region of the American Cancer Society, said in an interview with Kronkite News.

“Patients are afraid to go to the doctor or clinic and are waiting for these preventive screenings or even assessing their symptoms.”

The statistics on these failed tests are amazing.

1 SurveyThe IQVIA Institute for Human Data Science announced in April that the numbers of mammograms, colonoscopy, and papanicolou smears were 87% and 90, respectively, compared to February 2020, a month before the pandemic was declared. It turned out that it decreased by% and 83%.

Using modeling, the report estimated that over 80,000 cancer diagnoses could be overlooked or delayed due to pandemic-related confusion.

another ReportFrom March to June 2020, published by the Epic Health Research Network in July, more than 400,000 breast, colon, and cervical examinations were found to have been overlooked.

During the early months of the pandemic, some states and healthcare facilities put cancer screening on hold to limit the spread of COVID-19. But even after screening resumed, concerns about getting sick kept people away.

“Early detection is the key to defeating and fighting cancer,” Feliz said. “These delays have given you the opportunity to progress the cancer and make it more difficult to treat.”

Dr. Nayan Patel, a gastroenterologist and hepatologist at Arizona Digestive Health in Scottsdale, performs endoscopy, colonoscopy, and other procedures to help detect cancer early. He has seen first-hand how the pandemic affected the burden on patients.

“Many patients are wary of coming to such an environment (hospitals or surgical centers) for fear of being infected with COVID,” he said.

Aside from worrying about getting sick, experts say that lack of health insurance due to pandemic-related unemployment and other barriers to care also affects screening numbers.

Blacks and Hispanic adults are more likely than whites to have problems paying for medical care, bills, or rent or mortgages during the pandemic and are more likely to be unemployed during the pandemic. according to To Pew Research Center.

Lack of transportation and language services creates more barriers to prophylactic screening of colored races facing high mortality from several different types of cancer.

For example, black patients may be diagnosed with breast, colorectal, and cervical cancer later than white patients because of low screening rates and timely follow-up of abnormal results. The sex will be higher. Experts are careful..

“Minority groups have higher cancer incidence and mortality,” Feliz said. “And much of it comes from access to care.”

To combat these missed screenings, doctors and advocacy groups are informed about delays and the risk of misses.

On January 28, officials with dozens of cancer treatment and research centers letter That is, “We have the opportunity to work together to reverse the course and help reduce the negative effects of pandemics on cancer patients. As national leaders in cancer treatment, we are leaders of all people, communities, And other healthcare professionals are encouraged to act now. “

The MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, one of the largest such centers in the world, is the medical director of the Anderson Cancer Prevention Center, saying that safety measures have been taken to protect patients during face-to-face treatment. Dr. Therese Beavers said. They include temperature checks, new medical grade masks worn by patients at the time of booking, recent trips, and screening questions regarding COVID-19 exposure and symptoms.

“We’ve been trying to send a message through multiple media mechanisms that it’s important to have a cancer screening and that it’s safe,” she said.

With the deployment of the COVID-19 vaccine, cancer experts hope that screening numbers will return to normal, but patients do not have to wait for appointments until they are fully vaccinated.

“Many people have decided to postpone preventive services such as cancer screening until they are vaccinated,” Bevers said. “But understand that women aged 40 or 50 who need a mammogram each year are not eligible to be vaccinated until April or perhaps summer, unless there is an underlying condition at risk. please.

“Cancer doesn’t stop in the midst of a pandemic, and cancer screening may not come to mind, and you may have postponed it … but you can prioritize it. It is important.”

Melissa Estrada’s Story, Kronkite News

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