Nearly a year after the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, new cancer screening studies and a comprehensive impact of COVID-19 study by the Cancer Support Community, point to a need for more cancer patient support in the year ahead due to delayed diagnoses and treatments.
According to the studies, cancer screenings of the breast, colon and cervix were down between 86% and 94% in March 2020 and screenings still remained 29% to 35% lower than pre-COVID levels by June 2020.
Another study in October 2020 found that an estimated 22 million people had missed or canceled their cancer screening appointments due to COVID-19 concerns.
"These numbers are staggering -- and yet not surprising,” said CEO of Cancer Support Community North Texas Mirchelle Louis. “We’ve supported thousands of people along their cancer journey with significant fear of COVID-19 this year and expect that number to only increase in 2021 as people begin venturing back out and getting their screenings and treatments. Our message to cancer patients and their families: Please lean on us and take care of yourselves."
There are five things every cancer patient, newly diagnosed or in treatment, can immediately do to take stock and ensure their mental and physical health is top priority.
- Don’t miss appointments and follow-ups. Staying on top of these is crucially important and will also decrease anxiety and help preserve mental health.
- Seek out emotional and mental health support to accompany medical treatment.
- Dig deep into nutrition. Certain foods, like mushrooms and green leafy vegetables, have shown to greatly reduce cancer risk and boost immunity.
- Contact the Cancer Support Hotline with questions. Anxiety is affecting everyone right now, and cancer patients even more, the free hotline connects callers with support all week long. The number is 1-888-793-9355.
- Take small health and wellness steps. Meditation, yoga, gentle exercise are all proven to help the mind and body during a cancer journey.
Cancer fighter Ken Allen said he hoped people take the advice.
Get connected to a healthier life.
"I think we are going to see a lot of people going from not knowing they have cancer directly to finding out they have metastatic. There won’t be an in-between," he said. "For so many people who have put this off, I hope that we can reach them and we have some impact on their lives."