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The Pandemic’s Effects on Cancer Screenings

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COVID-19 stay-at-home orders caused millions of people to miss work, school and appointments — including critical ones, like preventive health care and cancer screenings. And that has health experts concerned about the consequences as many cases may be going undiagnosed.

Here’s what you should know about getting your care back on track to help safeguard your long-term health.

The Dangers of Delaying

Preventive screenings can catch cancer early before it even causes symptoms. Often, that’s when the disease is easier to treat.

Delaying non-emergency care during the pandemic stopped millions of people from getting these checks. Studies show screening rates dropped sharply in spring 2020 — in some cases, by more than 90%.

There are already signs that the halt caused harm. In a small survey of radiation oncologists, two-thirds said new patients are arriving with more advanced-stage cancers. An analysis from the National Cancer Institute predicts the delays will cause 10,000 more people to die over the next decade from breast and colorectal cancer alone.

The bottom line is that cancer screenings make a big difference in your long-term wellness, and fear of COVID-19 shouldn’t keep you from getting them. It’s safe to seek care, and we’re here to put your mind at ease and help you take charge of your health.

Get Back on Schedule

Fortunately, some studies suggest screening rates are returning to normal. But not all those missed tests have yet been made up. It’s time to get back to your regular preventive care because early diagnosis and treatment can save your life.

Talk to your doctor about your cancer risk and the screening tests you need. While there’s no guaranteed way to prevent cancer, regular cancer screenings are important because early diagnosis offers a better chance for a cure in many cases.

Find the Cancer Screening Schedule That’s Right for You

There’s no universal cancer screening regimen. Instead, your doctor will determine how often to screen for cancer based on your: 

  • Age
  • Family health history 
  • Gender
  • Genetic risks for cancer
  • Personal health history

Be sure to talk with your doctor about all the risks involved with cancer screening and any concerns you may have about cancer screening and your safety.

Your provider can help you follow the right cancer screening schedule for you. Ask about recommended screenings for:

  • Breast cancer
  • Cervical cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Lung cancer

When you’re here for an appointment, rest assured we have enhanced precautions to keep you safe from COVID-19. These include social distancing, temperature screenings, required face masks, frequent sanitization and more.

Mammograms and COVID-19 Vaccines

When is the one time it’s OK to wait for your mammogram? When you’ve recently received the COVID-19 vaccine.

Mammograms as a method of early detection are an essential part of successfully fighting breast cancer. After completing a COVID-19 vaccination series, you may choose to wait four weeks before receiving a mammogram or may notify the mammogram team of your vaccination date and which arm received the injection. This is due to the potential for lymph nodes to enlarge as part of the immune system's natural response to a COVID-19 vaccine.

There is no need to delay receiving a COVID-19 vaccine after receiving a mammogram. And we encourage you to use vaccination as another powerful preventive care tool that can help protect your health and others’. When you’re ready to schedule your mammogram appointment, click here .

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