The pandemic has forced people to stay home, especially from doctor’s offices. A pain or two can be ignored to avoid the virus and give those who are actually ill a spot in a hospital bed. However, there is no evidence that the rate of cancer is decreasing, which leaves the possibility that cancers are going undiagnosed and/or untreated due to the pandemic. In fact, the risk involved with not getting routine tests done is alarming.
Thus, some of the largest cancer organizations have banded together to write an open letter to the public, reminding them that cancel still poses a major threat to their health and acting as soon as safely possible can lead to much better outcomes. Among these are The National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Cancer Society.
“As leading cancer centers and organizations, we urge people across the country to talk with their health care provider to resume regular primary care checkups, recommended cancer screening, and evidence-based cancer treatment to lessen the negative impact the pandemic is having on identifying and treating people with cancer,” representatives of the organizations write.
But their main concern is not finding the cancer early enough to treat it. “This is concerning because identifying and treating cancer early significantly improves outcomes from cancer, a disease in which it’s estimated more than 600,000 people died from in the U.S. in 2020,” they write.
Recent research has found the number screenings of cervical, colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer dropped radically due to COVID-19 concerns. There has also been a significant drop in cancer diagnoses and delays in active treatment, as patients are worried about being exposed to the virus.
The organization representatives point out that hospitals and medical systems across the country implemented infection control measures to provide a safe environment for people to receive important medical care. The representatives recommend everyone ensure people are not delaying care for important medical issues, encourage people to resume recommended cancer screening, encourage patients with cancer to resume evidence-based treatment, contact a doctor right away if concerning medical symptoms arise, and resume all preventive and prescribed care.