Michigan Association of Health Plans

Why You Should Continue Routine Cancer Screenings During COVID-19

Cancer centers around the country, including the University of Michigan Rogel Cancer Center, are urging people not to let routine cancer screenings lapse during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Regular mammograms, colonoscopies, Pap tests and prostate cancer tests are our best methods for detecting cancer before it starts or at its earliest stages, when it’s easiest to treat,” says Kim Zapor, a nurse with the U-M Rogel Cancer Center’s CancerAnswerLine. “Hospitals are taking many precautions to keep patients safe during a visit, so, except in places experiencing a severe COVID outbreak, the risk to the patient from skipping a test is greater than the risk from going to a clinic.”

More than a third of American adults have skipped scheduled cancer screenings during the pandemic, a survey by the Prevent Cancer Foundation found. And weekly diagnoses fell by nearly 50% for the top six types of cancer during the early months of COVID, a recent study in JAMA Network Open found. Another editorial, authored by the National Cancer Institute, warned that drops in screening for breast and colorectal cancer alone may lead to as many as 10,000 additional deaths in the coming decade.

“We’re urging patients to make and keep appointments for their routine cancer screenings,” Zapor says.

As part of Michigan Medicine, the Rogel Cancer Center is taking numerous precautions to help keep patients stay safe during visits, including:

  • Requiring all patients, visitors and hospital staff to wear masks.
  • Increasing physical distancing and rigorous disinfecting protocols throughout its facilities.
  • Increasing the use of virtual visits to limit the number of patients needing in person clinic visits.

This article was originally featured in the University of Michigan Health Blog, read more here.