Regular Cancer Screenings Save Lives

In early 2020 at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, procedures like cancer screenings were temporarily rescheduled to give health care systems the chance to focus resources on battling COVID-19. Despite resuming these procedures as scheduled within a few weeks, the effect has been a significant reduction in cancer screenings.

According to the Epic Health Research Network, there was a drop between 86% and 94% in preventive screenings for breast, cervical and colon cancer performed nationwide in 2020.

In another article published in Science, director of the U.S. National Cancer Institute Norman Sharpless estimated 10,000 more deaths from breast and colorectal cancer alone over the next decade from pandemic-related delays in care.

“Cancer screening tests are important because they can identify a malignancy before symptoms appear, when the disease may be easier to treat,” explained Missouri Baptist Medical Center medical oncologist Dr. Matthew Stein. “The primary screening evaluations patients should consider are for breast, lung, colorectal and cervical cancer.”

It’s Safe to Get Screening Tests

MoBap has several precautions in place to be sure that cancer screenings are safe. “While COVID-related protocols are subject to change, we continue to pre- screen patients for symptoms, require masks and limit the number of individuals in waiting and exam rooms to allow for physical distancing,” said Dr. Stein. “We also follow strict cleaning procedures.”

Dr. Stein urges patients to take the first step and talk to their primary care provider (PCP) about what screenings they qualify for, as well as the benefits and risks associated with each test.

“Screenings in 2021 are lagging behind those performed before the pandemic; however, we’re optimistic this will change,” he said. “Cancer screening is critical because early detection can allow for more to be done to treat and potentially cure a patient’s disease.”

Breast Health Screening

Annual mammograms usually start when women are 40-45.

A family history of cancer may call for screening to start earlier.

No referral is needed from your doctor to schedule your mammogram.

Colon and Rectal Health Screening

First colonoscopy or stool-based test usually start at age 45.

A family history of cancer may call for screening to start earlier.

Lung Health Screening

Annual low-dose chest CT for ages 50-80 with smoking history.

Contact our Lung Nurse Navigator to get more information about this screening.

 

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