(WFLA/NBC) – Cancer diagnoses are down during the coronavirus pandemic and that has health experts concerned.
They believe there are just as many cases out there, but the cases are not being caught early, and that may result in more deaths in the coming years.
Chealci Eddins is in the fight of her life, battling breast cancer during the pandemic.
“I m not going let cancer beat me,” she said.
Health experts worry for every case like Chealci’s, many others are going undetected, undiagnoses, or untreated as a result of COVID-19.
“We are looking at the possibility for the first time in decades we don’t see cancer mortality decline on a year to year basis,” said Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute.
Earlier this summer, Dr. Sharpless wrote in medical journal magazine “Science” there could be 10,000 additional deaths from breast and colorectal cancer alone over the next decade.
He now believes that estimate is conservative.
“That colonoscopies and mammography have declined to an even greater degree than we predicted at the time,” he said.
A recent study from the Prevent Cancer Foundation found more than a third of Americans have missed cancer screenings due to the pandemic.
“In general we think that cancer is a bigger threat than exposure to coronavirus,” Dr. Sharpless said. “There are approaches we can use to get patients in to get the care they need without being placed in harms way.”
The National Cancer Institute is encouraging patients to communicate with their doctors as it helps treatment centers get back up to speed and pushes for continued clinical trials and research.
For more information on types of cancer screenings and who should be getting them, visit the National Cancer Institute.
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