Doctors stress importance of early detection as cancer screenings drop due to COVID-19

During the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have been nervous to head into the doctor's office.

"A lot of people were afraid to go to the hospital because of COVID," said Dr. Vershalee Shukla with the Vincere Cancer Center in Scottsdale.

According to a new study published by the American Medical Association, nearly 10 million cancer screenings have been missed during the pandemic.

In the study, investigators analyzed data on breast, colon and prostate cancers, and those comprised the drop in screenings. For doctors, the study's findings are a big worry, because COVID-19 will indirectly cause an increase in cancer deaths via delayed screenings.

Doctors at Vincere Cancer Center have noticed the decline.

"I think more preventative exams are being picked up now, but unfortunately, you are going to see later cancers due to the delays in cancer screenings due to COVID," said Dr. Shukla.

On top of that, doctors say they see many patients delaying screenings due to fear. They are now stressing the importance of early detection.

"If you get a cancer diagnosis, that is almost like thinking that is my death sentence, but it is not true," said Dr. Pablo Prichard with Vincere Cancer Center. "The treatment for early-stage cancers is curative for most cancers."

Doctors at Vincere Cancer Center say they are starting to see an increase in patients now that many people are getting vaccinated, and they hope that trend continues.

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