We’ve all heard that early detection is key when dealing with cancer, but what does that look like in the midst of the COVID-19 outbreak?
According to data from Epic, an electronic health record system, appointments for screenings for cancers of the cervix, colon and breast were down between 86% and 94% in March, compared to average volumes in the three years before the first COVID-19 case was confirmed in the U.S. This data represents only a fraction of all cancer screenings, but it helps to demonstrate the gaps in care as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
Cancer screenings are still essential healthcare and keeping up with routine health screenings is more important now than ever. First and foremost, delays in treatment can lead to less favorable outcomes for patients. Additionally, those with a cancer diagnosis are at higher risk for serious illness from an infection as their immune systems are often weakened by cancer. This means that exposure to COVID-19 could have more serious consequences.
If you’ve missed an annual exam or routine screening, or if you’re having symptoms you are concerned about, you should contact your health care provider to get your appointments and screenings back on track.
Below is a general guideline for routine cancer screenings:
- Breast Cancer
- Mammograms are recommended annually for women beginning at the age of 40.
- Cervical Cancer
- Pap smears are recommended to detect cervical cancer every three years for women who have had three consecutive normal Pap tests, beginning at age 18.
- Colon Cancer
- Colonoscopies are recommended every 10 years for adults without other risk factors, beginning at age 50.
- Lung Cancer
- Lung cancer screenings are recommended for adults between the ages of 55 and 77 who have a history of smoking 30 packs or more each year.
- Skin Cancer
- Skin cancer screenings are recommended at your doctor’s discretions, beginning at age 18.
- Prostate Cancer
- Prostate cancer screenings are recommended for men beginning at age 40. You can ask your doctor which screening exam is right for you.
How We Are Protecting Our Patients
Within our hospitals and clinics there are currently several additional safety measures in place to keep you and your family safe and healthy while still receiving essential care.
- Social Distancing - Patients will maintain at least a 6-foot distance between each other when checking in and in the waiting room. Chairs and tables will be spaced out, acrylic shields will be placed over registration desks and there will be directions labeled via signs and on the floors to signify proper distances. Our staff will also practice social distancing unless it is necessary to come in closer contact for patient care.
- Masks and Temperature Checks On Arrival - When you enter a facility, you will participate in a mandatory temperature check as well as be given a mask to wear over your nose and mouth.
- Additional Hand Sanitizer Available - Automatic hand sanitizer stations are placed around all our facilities. To better accommodate the influx in hand sanitizer use by our patients and staff, we have increased the availability of hand sanitizer in our facilities. We encourage you to use these touchless stations before your visit, after meeting with your provider, after touching yourself or others, after using the restroom, before and after eating or drinking or after touching objects such as elevator buttons, pens or handrails.
- Regularly Cleaning All Public Areas - While our staff is always diligent about cleaning our facilities, we have increased the number of times a day that our staff cleans all public areas. We are also undergoing facility improvements such as replacing worn out furniture, repainting walls, replacing carpet, fixing torn or damaged wallpaper and ceiling tiles and removing outdated signage. If you believe an area is not up to the highest cleaning standards, please direct your feedback to the nearest information desk staff member to handle accordingly.