BURLINGTON, Vt. (WFFF) – Millions of people in the United States missed routine cancer checkups over the past year, and as Vermont and the nation return to normal, health officials want to make sure these important checkups are part of your summer plans.
During the pandemic, the trend towards missed check-ups raised concerns that doing so would cause delays in the identification and treatment of cancer patients and potentially kill thousands.
According to the American Cancer Society, the number of people screened for colorectal cancer, breast cancer, and cervical cancer decreased by as much as 90% last spring.
“We are very happy to be able to welcome the people back,” said Dr. Natasha Withers, General Practitioner at Porter Medical Center. “Explain to them the importance of preventive examinations, be it a health check-up with your doctor or a preventive test such as colonoscopies, mammograms, Pap smears and the like.”
Even during the pandemic, the message was simple – it’s safe to get checked and it could save your life.
As more people are vaccinated and public health officials and organizations are able to turn more attention to COVID-19, this message will take center stage.
“We are launching a public awareness campaign to return to screening,” said Lynn Basilio, senior manager, Strategic Partnerships for Cancer Control with the Northeast American Cancer Society. “We have brought together national and local partners to work on it together and draw more attention to it. The cancer hasn’t stopped so we have to get back to checkups and our health appointments. “
At the COVID-19 briefing on Tuesday, Vermont Health Commissioner Dr. Mark Levine that the missed screenings are one of many public health concerns emerging from the pandemic, and we still do not fully understand how far-reaching the consequences could be.
“The lifestyle changes that we always talk about, that people may have done a good job at when the pandemic broke out, kind of broke it all apart,” said Dr. Levine. “In connection with stress, in connection with routine disturbances, in connection with being more at home and not doing so much, being less active.”
He anticipates more research will be published in the coming months on how widespread these effects could be and said the health ministry will learn more about this return to healthy habits in the coming weeks and months.