Don't delay cancer screenings put off by pandemic

May 17, 2021

If you had an appointment for a screening that was canceled or postponed, it is time to reschedule.

(Paducah, Ky.) May 17, 2021 — Adding to the list of things disrupted by the pandemic, many elective medical procedures, including cancer screenings, were largely put on hold to prioritize urgent needs and to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19 in healthcare settings. 

If you had an appointment for a screening that was canceled or postponed, it is time to reschedule. Taking into consideration your personal and family history, other risk factors, and the timing of your last screening test, your provider can discuss balancing the risks and benefits of being screened now.

It is important to note cancer-screening tests look for cancer in people who do not have symptoms. These tests differ from ones your doctor might order if you have symptoms that could be from cancer, like a lump in the breast or blood in the stool. If you have symptoms like these, call your doctor, as you will need exams or tests that evaluate those particular signs or symptoms. 

Screening tests are general recommendations for large groups of people, but you may have some flexibility for some tests, including:

  • Cervical cancer screening. A Pap smear involves the collection of cells from the lining of the cervix. These cells are analyzed for evidence of cancer or precancerous abnormalities. Pap smears are a preventive procedure, designed to catch cancer in its early stages when treatment is most likely to be successful in overcoming the disease. Pap smears are an effective means of combating cervical cancer, reducing incidence and mortality. 
  • Breast cancer screening. Cancer screenings help find cancer before symptoms are experienced. This is especially important in diagnosing breast cancer, which affects one of every six women ages 40 to 49. When found early, breast cancer is highly treatable.
  • Colorectal cancer screening. Colorectal cancer has the second-highest mortality rate among all cancers diagnosed in the US, but if diagnosed and treated at an early stage, a person has a much better chance of survival. That is why the American College of Gastroenterology recommends screening for colorectal cancer at age 45 for individuals, not at an increased risk of the disease.

Early detection can make a difference. Generally, the later cancer is detected, the more serious and involved treatment becomes. Catching cancer at an earlier stage may make cancer easier to treat and improve outcomes. If you are high risk, it is important to stick to your regular screening schedule.

To learn more about cancer screening or want to schedule a cancer screening, visit today.