We are falling behind in the battle to save lives by screening for cancer


Dr. Shiv Desai

More than a year after the onset of the pandemic, cancer doctors like me are facing a new battle to help our communities overcome not only the coronavirus, but the life-changing and often life-threatening diagnosis of cancer.

As a radiation oncologist who has treated thousands of cancer patients, I know all too well the differences in outcomes that we see for patients who have the disease caught and treated early, compared to patients who come in at a much later stage of the disease.

This is why it is important to schedule your annual skin cancer screening.
Don't make an excuse for skipping regular breast cancer screenings.

Many cancers, if caught in time, can be treated well with a combination of surgery, radiation and chemotherapy. I see that patients diagnosed by early cancer screenings return to normal life after treatment.

That’s why the latest data on cancer screening appointments during the COVID-19 pandemic is so troubling to me and other cancer specialists.

In the latest AdventHealth survey in six states, more than 30% of respondents reported postponing their annual physical training because of fear of COVID-19, or because they lost income or health insurance during the pandemic.

The American Cancer Society estimates that by 2020 nearly 277,000 women will be diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, an additional 48,530 with carcinoma in situ (CIS is a non-invasive and the earliest form of breast cancer), and more than 42,000 women will die.  of the disease.

At least 22% said they delayed their annual mammograms – an important tool in early breast cancer detection – for the same reason, while 23% said they delayed Pap smears to detect cervical cancer. Early detection of breast and cervical cancer can be treated with a high chance of cure and an easier treatment path for patients.

Meanwhile, 18% reported colonoscopies were delayed – a test no one likes to prepare for, but which saves lives every day when tiny pre-cancerous or cancerous polyps can be removed and analyzed during a painless outpatient procedure before turning into the kind of life-threatening cancer . diagnosis that causes patients much more stress and trauma.

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