Doctors see sharp decline in breast, cervical cancer screenings due to pandemic

RALEIGH, N.C. (WTVD) -- New data out shows just how steep the decline was for women, especially minority groups for preventative cancer screenings in the pandemic.

The CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection program finding the total number of screening tests by women declined 87 percent for breast cancer and 84 percent for cervical cancer in April 2020 compared to data from the previous five years.

The data finding women of color were impacted the most with breast cancer screenings dropping 84 percent among Hispanic women and 98 percent among American Indian and Alaskan Native women. Cervical cancer screenings among minorities dropped 82 percent among Black women and 92 percent among Asian American Pacific Islander women.

The CDC warns prolonged delays in screenings could increase existing health disparities. Local doctors are also encouraging patients who may have delayed preventative screenings or checkups in the pandemic to prioritize it now as early detection saves lives.

"I would say if you delayed getting preventative care for understandable reasons in 2020, don't let 2021 pass you by without having updated all of those things that are necessary," explained WakeMed OB-GYN Dr. Angela Gantt.

"A short delay is reasonable, a year delay is probably not reasonable," Gantt added.

Gantt says her practice and many other health care providers are doing more to give patients flexibility including expanded and extended hours.
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