When COVID-19 exploded onto the scene in early 2020, few if any could predict the enormous social, economic, and even political impacts that were to come. An interesting thing occurred, though, in the midst of the rising tide of the pandemic. While diagnosed cases of COVID-19 continued to rise around the country, some cancer diagnoses were on the decline, including those of colorectal cancer. On the surface, this would appear to be a monumental development and accomplishment in the fight against colorectal cancer! However, a closer look reveals the truth in the timing. The decrease in cancer diagnoses is directly related to the dramatic decrease in exams and screenings this past year, a trend we need to see reversed in 2021.
Why Was There a Decrease in Cancer Screenings?
To say we were unprepared as a nation for a pandemic like COVID-19 is an understatement, and this became very apparent early on as health care facilities and hospitals in different areas around the country became overwhelmed with patients. Even as they neared or reached their patient capacity, information was still being acquired as to the contagious nature and potency of this disease. In a desire to minimize the spread and to conserve resources in the healthcare system, elective procedures, including certain cancer screening procedures, were postponed.
To their immense credit, the medical community of doctors, scientists, and researchers worked around the clock to understand how to treat COVID and how to reduce its spread. As more information became available regarding protective measures and patient safety, doctors began to schedule screenings again. This lapse of time though, will ultimately come at a cost, as cancer is a disease that doesn’t delay or stop due to worldwide pandemics or cultural changes. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that too many people will find out later than they should have that they have colorectal cancer. And as we know with cancer, every day counts when it comes to early detection and treatment.
I Missed My Last Screening. When Should I Reschedule?
Time matters when it comes to cancer, so you should reschedule your missed appointment. If you are concerned about COVID-19, we can assure you that we are taking every precaution possible when it comes to protecting your health and slowing the spread. Contact us to schedule an appointment, whether you are a new patient or a current patient, or schedule your screening here.
Is There a Vaccine and When Will I Have Access?
Yes! A COVID-19 Vaccine has recently been approved, with the CDC and FDA managing the distribution process.
In the near future, and as supplies ramp up, everyone will be able to have access to the vaccine. However, due to the initial limited supply of the vaccine, the state of Wisconsin (per supplies allocated at the federal level) will follow the recommendations developed by the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices and the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee. As such, the vaccine will be offered in a series of phases, with the frontline healthcare workers and residents of long-term care facilities being the first to receive access.
For more information on the development of this plan and distribution timelines, take a few moments and read the COVID-19 Distribution Plan for Wisconsin as well as the DHS executive summary, COVID-19 Vaccination - Planning in Action.