Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president of Texas Oncology, addresses roadblocks to cancer screenings first thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and that continue to reverberate today.
Although numbers of cancer screenings are improving, they remain down, and these screenings are delayed because the issue is multifaceted: There is diminished capacity to handle screening requests, staffing issues, and social distancing, so that even people who are ready and want to get screened still are delayed in doing so, noted Debra Patt, MD, PhD, MBA, executive vice president of Texas Oncology, when addressing roadblocks to cancer screenings first thrown up by the COVID-19 pandemic that continue still.
Is there any sign that cancer screenings are returning to prepandemic levels?
Cancer screening has been substantially impacted by the pandemic. We know that, as we published early in 2020, that in 2020, rates were dramatically down across the board for breast, colon, prostate, and lung cancer screenings. We have seen levels improve, but they have not yet returned to normal. In fact, so much so that there are delays in even people that want to get screening getting screened. There’s a multifaceted issue that people are still delaying screenings and there is diminished capacity in each place that does cancer screening, to some degree because of social distancing, to some degree because of staffing. And they just can’t flex to accommodate all the people that have delayed, even if they were all ready to go get screened. No, things have not returned to normal, it still does remain a problem, but it’s much better than we saw in 2020.