While the direct effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are becoming relatively well understood, many of its secondary and tertiary impacts remain elusive and largely invisible. One thing we know for certain: some of the most dramatic and widespread ripple effects have been around routine screenings and preventative healthcare.
In a first-of-its-kind report released in February 2022, the American Association for Cancer Research estimated there were nearly 10 million canceled or postponed cancer screenings from January through July 2020.
“The COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate impact in March and April of 2020, as screenings initially dropped by close to 80 percent,” said Ahmedin Jemal, MD, the senior vice president of Surveillance & Health Equity Science at the American Cancer Society and senior author of the study. “As we move forward, it’s crucial to get people back into their doctor’s offices to get screened.”
As clinics and hospitals slowly began to reopen in late 2020 and early 2021, many patients rescheduled their routine screenings and preventive care appointments. Unfortunately, millions of others did not. One such high-profile example is Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar.
In March 2021, about one month after Klobuchar had finally gone in for her routine breast cancer screening, she was diagnosed with early-stage breast cancer. “There are so many people who delayed routine exams during the pandemic,” Klobuchar said in a September 2021 interview with the Star Tribune. “I did the same. Luckily for me, I did go in, and I caught it early enough where I didn’t need chemotherapy and more extensive treatments.”
Routine Cancer Screenings Save Lives
“COVID-19 commanded a huge chunk of our attention and resources,” says Good Clinic Nurse Practitioner Kerry Johnson. “At the same time, we have to remember diseases don’t take turns. Cancer, heart disease, diabetes, and other chronic conditions aren’t just standing around politely waiting for the pandemic to end.”
Healthcare providers recommend routine screenings because early detection gives patients a better chance of beating deadly diseases. Breast cancer, in particular, offers a stark example. When breast cancer is detected early, in its localized form, the 5-year relative survival rate is 99 percent. If detected once the cancer has spread to nearby tissue or lymph nodes, however, the 5-year relative survival rate falls to just 86 percent.
Whole-Person Primary Care
Senator Klobuchar gets how easy it can be to keep postponing or even skip routine checkups. “More than one in three adults reported delaying or forgoing health care because of coronavirus-related concerns,” wrote Klobuchar in a September 2021 blog post. “There is rarely a good time to go in for a mammogram or routine health screening. I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow through.”
In addition to breast cancer screenings, a typical Good Clinic wellness visit includes a blood pressure test, cholesterol check, and basic screenings for diabetes, STIs, mental wellness, and other cancers.
Why Not Book An Appointment Today?
Sometimes it might seem like COVID-19 has brought a seemingly endless array of trade-offs and compromises to our everyday lives, not to mention our health and wellness. At The Good Clinic, we know better health happens when you have a close relationship with your care team. We think it’s time you have a “healthcare advocate.” As we continue to move forward, balancing the effects of a lingering pandemic and everyday care, it’s crucial to get on track and connect with a healthcare professional who cares deeply about your health and wellness.
Why not book an appointment today?