“We are worried”: Pandemic puts cancer screenings on pause, health experts urge people to schedule appointments

LA CROSSE, Wis. (WKBT) – This year, the American Cancer Society predicts nearly 2-million people will be diagnosed with cancer and there will be more than 608,000 deaths in the U.S.

That’s 5,200 cases and 1,670 deaths per day.

Thursday is World Cancer Day, and this year health professionals are raising awareness about the importance of getting screened and going to routine treatments, despite the pandemic.

One local health expert said between March and June of last year as many as 80% of patients canceled their screening or treatment appointments.

“We are worried – meaning the physicians practicing in oncology across the nation – that this delay of screening procedures will lead to a higher incidence of patients presenting with more advanced stages of cancer, making it more difficult to cure these cancers when they eventually appear,” said Matthias Weiss, MD, Mayo Clinic Health System Hematology & Oncology Specialist.

Weiss is optimistic though.

Over the last few days, he was able to detect early stages of cancer in several patients, which means they are very likely to recover without extensive treatments.

If those patients had put off getting screened the outcome could have been very different.

With the safety measures health care facilities are taking to prevent COVID-19, Weiss said don’t put off making an appointment because “screening is key.”