Guest post from Paula Green of the American Cancer Society
Providing everyone with the opportunity to have a healthy lifestyle and access to cancer screenings saves thousands of lives every year and helps to eliminate inequities that exist in the prevention and early detection of cancer.
However, throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare resources were redirected to combat rising cases and to prevent the spread of the virus. Elective medical procedures, including cancer screening, were largely put on hold. The impact was immediate as screening related procedures dropped drastically in 2020, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS).
Beginning in spring 2020, the number of cervical, colon and breast cancer screening tests dropped by more than 80 percent, according to data from the American Cancer Society and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network. An estimated 35 percent of Americans missed routine cancer screening due to COVID-19-related fears. And, there were disruptions to cancer care when many facilities reduced or suspended services. Four months into the pandemic, preventive care gaps persisted with 78 percent of primary care providers reporting that patients were delaying or deferring preventive and chronic care visits.
Some estimates suggest the diagnoses for six major cancer types dropped by nearly 50 percent. This sharp drop in new diagnoses is not good news – it’s alarming. It means early-stage cancers might not be found until later when they are more deadly and difficult to treat. Progress is being thwarted, and lives are at stake if we don’t act now.
Collaboration between multiple segments of the healthcare delivery system will be necessary to facilitate resumption of cancer screening services. The American Cancer Society has joined forces with the National Comprehensive Cancer Network and 74 other leading health organizations to encourage the prioritization of cancer screening and encourage people to return to screening. (ACS Resources for CCC Programs and Coalitions – ACS4CCC)
In parallel, Proscia is working to accelerate adoption of digital pathology. In shifting the standard of care from microscope to image, digital pathology is enabling laboratories to drive meaningful efficiency and quality gains. Proscia’s Concentriq platform provides enterprise functionality that streamlines sharing and collaboration, automates time-consuming tasks, and even helps to balance pathologists’ workloads. These benefits are critical as laboratories look to accelerate turnaround times and cope with the anticipated surge in demand for diagnostic services resulting from patients delaying screenings.
We know that screening can prevent certain types of cancers through the identification and removal of precancerous lesions, (colorectal and cervical cancers). The earlier a cancer is found, the more favorable the effects of treatment. In short, cancer screening helps save lives.
While cancer screenings have been delayed because of COVID-19, cancer hasn’t stopped. Early detection of cancer before symptoms appear has transformed the world of cancer care and has continued to play a critical role in the prevention and control of cancer types for which screening is available.
As a Partner Against Cancer, Proscia shares the ACS’ goal of improving patient outcomes. In February, the companies announced that Proscia has extended its commitment to the ACS Hope Lodge Program to provide free access to lodging for patients and their caregivers when the best hope for effective treatment may be in another city.
For more information about cancer screening, visit www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early.html.