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Pandemic effects on canceled, delayed breast cancer screenings

Breast cancer screening
Posted at 1:35 PM, Oct 07, 2021

TUCSON, Ariz. — An estimated 22 million cancer screenings were lost or canceled at the start of the pandemic according to the American Cancer Society.

Dr. Pavani Chalasani, an associate professor of medicine at the University of Arizona and a breast cancer clinical researcher, backs up the claim that many breast cancer screenings have been put off.

“There are studies which are currently being published which actually do support that like they've actually compared the screenings which were done from like March to April or, like, April to May in 2020 and compared to a couple of years before and there was definitely anywhere from 40% to 60% drop in screening,” said Chalasani.

Everything was shut down during that time. But now, more than a year later, there are still some limitations for safety. Chalasani says a big reason for delayed appointments is the number of appointment slots doctors have available.

“The number of slots for screening without the lower. So when you look at the trend that data actually does show that the volume has decreased and part of it is access to the slot, getting that. And you're putting in for a screening and getting that schedule like three months later, not the next week,” said Chalasani.

Now the question is, are prognoses more severe now with more and more screenings being pushed back or canceled?

“I think that is too early to answer that. I mean, because we are seeing cases, but…there is a prediction that they will be more advanced cases there. We've tried to make in advance and try to get better healthcare access right, and especially when there's a lot of disparities and some communities to not be able to get that. This has set us back again significantly,” said Chalasani.

She says a doctor’s office may be one of the safest places you can visit. Schedule your checkups and screenings now to make sure you aren’t putting yourself at risk for a potentially worse prognosis in the future.
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