Published on July 30, 2020

Preventative Cancer Screenings During COVID-19

masked doctor speaking with patient

"Unfortunately, cancer does not stop during a pandemic," shares Asma Latif, MD, oncologist at Sturdy Hematology and Oncology Associates and Director of Breast Oncology at Sturdy Memorial Hospital. "Between April and May we experienced a 42% decrease in the number of new cancer cases compared to years prior. This decrease is believed to be directly related to people not coming in for screenings, which at the height of the pandemic was appropriate. Our hospitals and healthcare systems across the country needed time to prepare for the impact of the virus and we all needed to do our part to slow the spread by staying home."

"As the pandemic continues throughout the country, we all must remember the importance of maintaining our routine preventative healthcare appointments. This includes important cancer screenings such as mammograms and colonoscopies," explains Kenneth Bishop, MD, PhD, oncologist at Sturdy Hematology and Oncology Associates. "Screenings are a critical component of healthcare as they allow us to identify cancer in its earlier stages, often before any symptoms present. Without proper screenings, our ability to detect and treat a cancer early decreases significantly. Early detection greatly improves the chance for successful treatment."

Breast Cancer Screening Guidelines

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women have a screening mammogram each year from 45-54 years old switching to once every two years at 55, further noting that women should have the choice to begin their annual mammograms at the age of 40. "As a breast oncologist, I encourage women to begin their screening mammograms at the age of 40 if they are considered to be normal risk," explains Latif.

Colorectal Cancer Screening Guidelines

The American Cancer Society recommends that men and women 45 years and older be screened regularly for colorectal cancer. "While there are many options available, such as stool based tests and other exams, a colonoscopy is considered the gold standard for colorectal cancer screening," shares David Cohen, MD, gastroenterologist at Attleboro Gastroenterology Associates.

Safe to Return

"We know that you may be apprehensive to schedule an appointment with your provider or visit the Hospital," shares Latif. "We understand, and we've worked hard on implementing a number of processes and procedures focused on your health and safety. This includes screening everyone who enters our Hospital or Practices for COVID-19 symptoms, routine COVID-19 testing for surgical procedures, social distancing measures, masking of all patients, visitors, and employees, the use of virtual waiting rooms, staggered appointments, and limiting visitors. These efforts are in place to reduce the spread of illness and further protect you and your family."

If you've delayed a screening, talk to your doctor about when you should reschedule. If you have concerns, they can provide you with options based on your personal risk factors for disease.

To schedule an appointment with our providers at Attleboro Gastroenterology Associates, please call 508-222-2021. For mammography services, please call 508-236-7770.