Missed Cancer Screenings in 2020

Studies reveal over 22 million people missed cancer screening appointments due to pandemic

As National Cancer Prevention Month draws to a close, we want to highlight important topics and information surrounding cancer prevention. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic led to millions of missed annual cancer screenings – read on to learn more about what you can do to care and advocate for yourself. At the end of the post, watch our educational presentations published in February that focus on topics related to cancer prevention.

Nearly a year after the COVID-19 pandemic caused Cancer Support Community North Texas (CSCNT) – the leading nonprofit providing free emotional and social support to cancer patients and their families – to pivot entirely to virtual support and programming, new cancer screening studies and a comprehensive impact of COVID-19 study by national Cancer Support Community (CSC), point to a glaring need for more cancer patient support in the year ahead due to delayed diagnoses and treatments.

According to the studies – all revealing similar data – cancer screenings of the breast, colon, and cervix were down between 86-94% in March 2020 and screenings still remained 29-35% lower than pre-COVID levels by June 2020. Another more recent study (Oct. 2020) found that an estimated 22 million people had missed or cancelled their cancer screening appointments due to COVID-19 concerns.

Additionally, results of national CSC’s recent COVID-19 impact study of more than 500 cancer patients revealed that:

  • 52% indicated that COVID-19 has very or somewhat negatively affected their ability to get needed health care
  • 40% experienced a disruption to their cancer-related health care because of COVID-19
  • 46% are somewhat, very, or extremely concerned about diagnostic tests being delayed or cancelled

“These numbers are staggering – and yet not surprising,” said CEO Mirchelle Louis of Cancer Support Community North Texas. “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!”

5 Things You Can Do

Louis says there are 5 things every cancer patient – newly diagnosed or in treatment – can immediately do to take stock and ensure their mental and physical health is Priority #1:

  1. Don’t miss your appointments and follow-ups – staying on top of these is crucially important and will also decrease anxiety and help preserve mental health
  2. Seek out emotional and mental health support to accompany medical treatment – let CSCNT and others help
  3. Dig deep into your nutrition – certain foods, like mushrooms and green leafy vegetables, have shown to greatly reduce cancer risk and boost immunity
  4. Contact the Cancer Support Hotline with questions – anxiety and “the unknown” is affecting everyone right now, and cancer patients even more, this free hotline connects callers with support all week long
  5. Take small health and wellness steps – meditation, yoga, gentle exercise are all proven to help the mind and body during a cancer journey

“I love CSCNT and owe it so much. I don’t think I would’ve made it through cancer or COVID-19 without it. When I’m with others facing the same situation, I’m not alone. If I didn’t have art and [emotional support] during my cancer, I would’ve had more anxiety and lacked the feeling of accomplishing something each day. Art is restful and healing – and it gives you something to look forward to,” said Fay Caldwell, a three-time cancer survivor and long-time member of CSCNT.

According to Louis, after suspending in-person services at the organization’s three clubhouses in Dallas, Collin and Tarrant counties on March 13, 2020, CSCNT accelerated its plan to move everything virtual not knowing how comfortable cancer patients and their families would be. “The more than 70,000 visits and views since the beginning of the pandemic say everything,” she said.

Louis says the organization will continue to expand and evolve programming to meet the need of its more than 5,000 members (membership is free to anyone who simply signs up indicating they need support.) “Our mission is to ensure cancer patients and their families get all of the support they need.”

Learn more about becoming a member of Cancer Support Community North Texas here!

Cancer Prevention Presentations

Throughout February, Cancer Support Community North Texas hosted several educational presentations focused on topics related to cancer prevention. Learn more about the steps you can take to prevent cancer in the following videos.

Nutrition & Cancer Prevention

Brush up on facts and myths about cancer prevention including sugar, soy, and alkaline diets from Tuesday Brooks, MBA, RDN, LD, and Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and online cancer dietitian.

Disparities in African American Women with Breast Cancer

Learn about the disparities in breast cancer that exist among African American women as compared to other groups. Lucy B. Wallace, M.D., Breast Surgical Oncologist and Co-medical Director of the Breast Cancer Research and Treatment Center at Baylor’s Sammons Cancer Center, discusses current screening recommendations for African American women in high-risk categories as well as risk reduction strategies.

See our full calendar of events, here.