Combatting COVID-19’s cancer screening dip

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(NBC News) — New research is showing just how dramatically cancer screenings dropped at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, potentially delaying thousands of diagnoses.

“It’s really a perfect storm for delayed cancer diagnosis that will that will lead to an increase in cancer death rate in subsequent years,” says the American Cancer Society’s Dr. Bill Cance.

Researchers at Dana-Farber/Brigham and Women’s Cancer Center found less than a quarter of patients received screenings during the first months of the pandemic than the year before.

“We’re talking about 1400 cases that were potentially, you know, maybe not the word missed, but at least certainly postponed until these individuals actually got their test or screening tests done,” says Dr. Quoc Dien-Trinh.

While screening numbers rebounded the following three months, health experts are worried climbing COVID cases may divert resources, pause elective procedures and re-ignite anxieties, leading to new decreases in screenings.

They’re now working to combat that.

“We are much more well equipped to handle the patients and to do the social distancing, the staggering of patients, and so forth,” Dr. Cance says. “So there are so many measures in place at health care facilities now.”

If you’re among those who are anxious about going in for a doctor’s visit or cancer screening, health experts suggest a telehealth consultation as a first step.

You can talk with your provider about what screenings you need and what safety measures their office has in place.

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