In 2020 and the early months of 2021, COVID-19 shook up routine medical care as health care workers rapidly repositioned to provide treatment and comfort to the millions diagnosed with coronavirus. It caused delays in elective surgeries, such as joint replacements; and “emergencies” were reclassified and treated in lower-level care units.
Millions of annual cancer screenings, critical to early detection, early treatment and potentially better outcomes were missed. Investigators found a 90% drop in screenings for breast, colon and prostate cancer in April 2020, right after COVID-19 shut down the nation. Outcomes for these three types of cancer can be dramatically impacted by early screening.
Why Were Cancer Screenings Missed?
For an estimated 9.4 million Americans, cancer screenings were foregone last year as part of routine medical care because of the pandemic. It may have been that facilities were not open or offering screenings; some facilities may have canceled appointments because of COVID patient care. It may have been that patients felt unsafe to leave their homes or venture into medical facilities. Now, COVID may claim more victims long-term because of missed cancer screenings.
What Can We Do Now?
As COVID cases have sharply declined across the country, it’s more important than ever that screenings missed in 2020 and the early part of 2021 are made up this fall.
A concentrated effort on both patients and health care providers must be made to see these missed screenings scheduled as soon as possible. Minimizing the delay in screenings and diagnoses means these cancers can be treated more quickly, in earlier stages and with better cure rates.
Another truth that revealed itself through COVID was the effectiveness of telehealth visits. Using technology to virtually visit with a physician was associated with better screening rates than those who did not. Telehealth can be extremely beneficial and should remain a viable option beyond the pandemic.
Your Health is Important
If you missed an annual mammogram or other cancer screening due to the pandemic, please contact your provider to schedule one at the earliest possible time. It may not be convenient, but it is worth it. Because YOU are worth it. And if your screening reveals a positive diagnosis, know that the compassionate people at Pretty in Pink Boutique are here to walk with you through your breast cancer journey, pre-surgery, during treatments and for the long-term. Contact us at 615-777-7465 or email us at [email protected] to schedule your appointment.