From February to April, routine cancer screenings dropped 90 percent due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but cancer is not going away.
Even as we continue to deal with COVID-19 on a national and global level, chronic conditions are still critically important to keep in mind.
Nikki Hyatt, outreach coordinator for ECU Health Cancer Care, recommends regular cancer screenings as they can be life-saving, by catching pre-cancerous cells and detecting cancer when it is more treatable.
“For a couple of months, we really weren’t seeing a lot of people in our cancer center – just the people who really needed to be there,” Hyatt said. “So, we were not seeing a lot of new diagnoses – which sounds great, a lot of people not being diagnosed with cancer. But what we’re seeing is cancer did not take a break, it’s still there. We just really need to get people back into the cancer center to find that cancer early.”
Hyatt said in recent years, the mortality rate of cancer patients has steadily been declining. However, she said many experts believe and studies indicate the mortality rate will rise this year because more cancer will be found in later stages due to the reduction in screenings.
The need for cancers screenings varies, but Hyatt said at around 40 years old, patients should start asking their primary care physicians about screenings.
“Be in there asking, ‘What are the screenings I need?’” Hyatt said. “Mammograms for breast cancer, PSAs for prostate cancer, colonoscopies for colorectal cancer – these are all done at different ages. But in general, if you’re 40 and older you really need to be in there, talking to your primary care physician asking… ‘Am I on track?’”
The Vidant Cancer Prevention Clinic is open with protocols in place to stop the spread of COVID-19 during the screenings, including mask requirements. Vidant is taking every precaution to keep patients and visitors safe.
Hyatt said along with talking to your primary care physician, you can also call 816-RISK (7475) to learn more about Vidant’s cancer screening services.
Watch the full Healthy Habits segment from WITN.