The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted healthcare services for everyone, but it’s been particularly distressing for cancer patients or those seeking screenings. Thankfully, many of the “non-essential” services that were put on pause are coming back, or may already be back in your city, with new rules in place to keep you safe. The most important thing you can do at this time is to make sure you aren’t ignoring your health.
“Cancer hasn’t gone away, just because we’re in the middle of a pandemic,” says Dr. Elizabeth Comen, an oncologist from the Memorial Sloan Cancer Center in New York. However, many elective procedures and preventive services such as mammograms, colonoscopies and Pap smears may have been delayed for a few months in order to limit the number of patients coming into a facility.
Major hospitals have told SurvivorNet that cancer screenings had dropped by 90% or more, so the most important thing you can do is be an advocate for yourself and push for what you need.
“Now that we have a better hold on how to protect patients, on how to clean and disinfect between patients, and how to not crowd our waiting rooms,” says Dr. Comen, “It is really really important to talk to your doctor about screening mammogram or any other preventative test that you may need, as we know that prevention works.”
Fear should not dictate treatment, and Comen says “what we don’t want is a huge fallout because patients are afraid to leave their home and missing their most important tests.”
While some patients may be anxious about getting screened while the pandemic is still ongoing, there are some tips that you can follow to help ensure safety:
Breast Cancer: Introduction to Prevention & Screening
Risk Factors for Breast Cancer
Continue Cancer Screenings Through COVID-19
Access to Good Information is Crucial After a Breast Cancer Diagnosis
What Are the Options if You Have a High Risk of Developing Breast Cancer?
Genetic testing can be used to determine if there was a hereditary cause of your cancer. The need for genetic testing depends on your unique situation.
Genetic Testing For Breast Cancer
Where Can I Get Genetic Testing?
Buyer Beware: Direct-to-Consumer Genetic Testing
Should I Get Genetic Testing to Assess My Risk for Cancer?
Genetic Testing 101: Should You Try Direct-to-Consumer Brands?