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Drop in cancer screenings amid pandemic: Doctors are worried and warn patients don't delay testing

Posted at 10:16 AM, May 26, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-26 11:16:44-04

TULSA, Okla. — A drastic drop of cancer screenings amid the pandemic has many health professionals worried about the health of Americans.

According to a recent report by the IQVIA Institute for Human Data Data Science, "COVID-19 has resulted in a 60 to 80% drop in cancer screenings."

Dr. Pat Basu, the CEO of the Cancer Treatment Centers of America (CTCA), is concerned about this data.

"If we don’t catch patients through screening, then the delays will lead to more deaths from cancer," says Dr. Basu.

The goal is to catch the disease early enough to fight it, but that isn't happening if fewer people are getting screened.

Dr. Basu believes the shutdown at the beginning of March contributed to less testing, but missed appointments and fears from catching the virus have also played a role. He reminds patients of the importance of getting checked out by a professional.

"I refer to this thing called the 'shadow curve,' which is the idea that we’ve been flattening the COVID curve, but there’s this other huge curve that is rising," explains Dr. Basu, "And unless we get ahead of these screenings we can be in real trouble.”

He says CTCA has increased their number of slots for cancer screenings, including mammograms, pap smears and colonoscopies.

All five hospitals in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa are also taking extra safety precautions to keep patients safe from COVID-19, including wearing protective masks, social distancing, limiting the amount of visitors and having a single point of entry.

CTCA treats about 100,000 patients a year.

For more information on getting a cancer screening or if you have an active diagnosis and need treatment, you can visit the CTCA website.

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