The organizations give recommendations on how to get patients to receive the care they need.
Although the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer has decreased significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, there is no evidence that the rate of new occurrences of cancer is also decreasing. That means many cancers are going undiagnosed and untreated during the pandemic.
The National Comprehensive Cancer Network and the American Cancer Society are teaming up with leading cancer organizations across the U.S. to endorse the resumption of cancer screening and treatment. In an open letter by the group of 76 organizations, they reminded the public that cancer still poses a major threat to people’s health and that acting as soon as safely possible can lead to better outcomes.
“As leading cancer centers and organizations, we urge people across the country to talk with their health care provider to resume regular primary care checkups, recommended cancer screening, and evidence-based cancer treatment to lessen the negative impact the pandemic is having on identifying and treating people with cancer,” representatives of the organizations write.
Recent research has found the number of cervical, colorectal, breast, prostate, and lung cancer screening tests dropped dramatically due to COVID-19 concerns. There has also been a significant drop in cancer diagnoses and delays in active treatment, as patients are worried about being exposed to the virus.
“This is concerning because identifying and treating cancer early significantly improves outcomes from cancer, a disease in which it’s estimated more than 600,000 people died from in the U.S. in 2020,” they write.
The organization representatives note hospitals and medical systems across the country implemented infection control measures to provide a safe environment for people to receive important medical care. The representatives recommend everyone ensure people are not delaying care for important medical issues, encourage people to resume recommended cancer screening, encourage patients with cancer to resume evidence-based treatment, contact a doctor right away if concerning medical symptoms arise, and resume all preventive and prescribed care.