The U.S. could be on the precipice of a spike in cancer deaths in the years to come after preventative screening and early diagnoses plummeted during the lockdowns, experts have warned. The Mail has more.
Experts are concerned a dip in diagnostic screening in 2020 likely resulted in countless missed opportunities to treat cancers early, which would have increased the odds of a person’s survival, potentially leading to a spike in cancer deaths in the coming years.
The National Cancer Institute, a Government body, collected far fewer reports of breast, lung, colorectal, thyroid, prostate and pancreatic cancers than what would normally be expected between March and May 2020 due to disruptions in healthcare.
The declines in diagnoses were largest for female breast, lung, and colorectal cancers, types that are typically diagnosed through screening measures that millions of Americans missed.
Government cancer experts now fear that it will take years for Americans to get back on track with their preventative healthcare.
When the first Covid outbreak gripped the country in early 2020, the vast majority of Americans were encouraged to quarantine at home in an effort to protect themselves from infection.
At the same time, healthcare systems curtailed many of its elective care services to free up resources to deal with an influx of new Covid patients.
Nearly 10 million cancer screening appointments were missed from January to July of 2020 alone. The mountain of missed screenings translated to an 11% increase in the number of patients diagnosed with cancer that had already spread to other parts of the body that year.
Dr. Monica Bertagnolli, director of the National Cancer Institute, said: “These missed opportunities for early cancer detection are alarming, particularly for those vulnerable populations that continue to face significant barriers in accessing cancer care.
“This report highlights the urgency in helping all Americans get back on track with their cancer care so that we can avoid unnecessary deaths and complications from cancer.”
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