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Should You Get a Cancer Screening During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

Publication: KXAN-TV (NBC, Austin)

A recent survey by the Prevent Cancer Foundation found 35% of people have skipped a scheduled cancer screening during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The data is pretty clear, the reductions in screenings for main cancers like breast, colon ,cervix and prostate have gone down dramatically,” said Dr. Miguel Albino with Texas Oncology Austin.

Yearly cancer screenings, like a mammogram or a colonoscopy, will check for cancer in people with no symptoms. Doctors say the screenings can save lives with early detection.

“For example, in breast cancer patients the majority of our patients detected in early stages they are detected by mammograms. The patient does not feel the lumps,” Dr. Albino said.

He says advanced stages of cancer can include more aggressive treatments and a lower survival rate. The National Cancer Institute warns the drop in screenings for breast and colorectal cancer alone may lead to as many as 10,000 additional deaths in the next decade.

“Yes, that is my biggest concern, absolutely,” Dr. Albino said. “I’m going to have more patients coming to me at a later stage in which I may not be able to help them to the effect that I would if we would have caught them at an earlier stage.”

The American Cancer Society says regular cancer screenings are important and suggests, “if you had an appointment for screening that was postponed or canceled, talk to your healthcare team about when to reschedule.”

“Your provider can discuss balancing the risks and benefits of being screened now or postponing for a later date, taking into account your personal and family history, other risk factors, and the timing of your last screening test.”

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