Screenings for a variety of common cancers have not returned to pre-pandemic levels, potentially leading to diagnoses later in the course of the disease when it may be more difficult to treat successfully, US data published on Thursday suggest.
In 2020 - the first year of the pandemic - average rates of screening for breast cancer fell by 40 percent, for cervical cancer by 36 percent, and for colorectal cancer by 45 percent, compared to the three previous years, according to an analysis of medical claims data from 306 million adults.
Diagnoses of breast, cervical and colorectal cancers dropped by roughly 6 percent to 7 percent between 2019 and 2020 and by an additional 5 percent to 6 percent between 2020 and 2021, the researchers also found.
The decrease in diagnoses “does not mean these cancers are suddenly less common,” said study leader Allison Oakes of data analytics company Trilliant Health in Brentwood, Tennessee.
“Rather, it means there are people with cancer who are going to be diagnosed at a later, more severe stage of the disease.”
By the end of 2021, screening rates had rebounded but were still below pre-pandemic levels, researchers reported in JAMA Oncology.
Ongoing analysis of 2022 data suggests screening rates in 2022 are unlikely to have improved dramatically, Oakes said.
“We do not see significant changes in behavior when looking quarter-over-quarter,” she added.
The issue appears to go beyond cancer testing, the study found.
Healthcare utilization for non-COVID, non-mental-health issues in the first quarter of 2022 was 6.2 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2019, Oakes said.
“Not only are people missing their annual cancer screenings, but they are using less primary care,” Oakes said.
“While Americans appear to be getting back to normal everyday life, whether in-office work or leisure travel, many of them are still avoiding the healthcare system.”
Personalized treatment to kill cancer cells using body’s own immunity advancesAn experimental medical study has found a way to attack cancer cells by redesigning the affected person’s immunity system.The BBC reported on Friday ... Healthy Living
L’Oreal’s hair straighteners caused woman’s cancer, lawsuit claimsL’Oreal SA has been sued by a Missouri woman who alleges she developed uterine cancer as a result of using the French cosmetic company’s ... World News
First-ever licensing deal struck for cancer drugPharmaceutical giant Novartis has signed a licensing agreement increasing access to a vital leukemia treatment, a UN-backed public health organization ... World News
Amgen says Lumakras pill cuts risk of lung cancer progression by 34 pctAmgen Inc’s Lumakras pill reduced the risk of disease progression in patients with advanced lung cancer by 34 percent compared with chemotherapy in a ... Healthy Living