People Skipped Their Colonoscopy During the Pandemic. Now There’s a Rise in More Serious Colon Cancer
When the COVID-19 pandemic began, there was a sharp decline in screening for various cancers, including colorectal cancer. Procedures like colonoscopies came to a complete stop due to efforts to reduce person-to-person contact and to save medical resources for those exposed to COVID-19.
Many medical professionals worry that skipping screenings could result in colon cancer being found at an advanced stage, increasing the number of cancer deaths. According to research, this might be true.
The Impact of COVID-19 on Colon Cancer Screening
Early in the pandemic, most healthcare facilities stopped performing colonoscopies, along with other types of preventive care procedures. When they were resumed, many people were still reluctant to visit healthcare facilities for non-emergency procedures to avoid exposure to COVID-19. Some facilities also struggled with severe staffing shortages and couldn’t schedule the same number of patients.
All of this led to colonoscopies being delayed or skipped, reducing the likelihood of polyp detection, early colon cancer diagnoses, and prompt treatment.
Researchers at the University of California San Diego Health’s Moores Cancer Center conducted a study to compare the incidence of early- and late-stage colorectal cancer diagnoses before and after the COVID-19 pandemic.
The study shows that there has been an increase in the number of late-stage colorectal cancer diagnoses since the pandemic began in 2020.
This means that people who skipped their colonoscopy wound up being diagnosed with cancer that was more advanced and more difficult to treat – with a lower survival rate. When colon cancer is found early, it is easier to treat and there is a much higher chance of a cure.
Some people may have had a pre-cancerous polyp that, if it had been found and removed earlier, could have prevented cancer completely.
The Importance of Resuming Colon Cancer Screening
The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly impacted cancer care. Unfortunately, delayed patient screening tests may continue to have adverse effects, including increased colon cancer cases and more deaths that could have been avoided.
To lessen your chances of being diagnosed with late-stage cancer, it’s important to resume on-time colonoscopies. For most people, that is starting at age 45.
If you were due for a colonoscopy but delayed it due to the pandemic, or any other reason, it’s time to get back on track!
A screening colonoscopy has the potential to save your life. Make an appointment today!