Do not push off health screenings, doctors caution

Local

WICHITA, Kan. (KSNW) – A warning from doctors — do not push off your health screenings.

The CDC said some screenings are down nearly 90% since last year, and nearly 10 million cancer screenings have been missed in the United States during the pandemic.

This has doctors worried about people who are pushing off their yearly appointments. 

Maggie Ward, the coordinator of the Cancer Outreach and Risk Assessment Program at Ascension Via Christi St. Francis Hospital, said the number of kids coming in for their checkups as they go back to school remains steady, but adults are not scheduling their appointments. 

“That’s when things can really creep up on us and make it more difficult,” said Ward. “I think we, unfortunately, have gotten out of our normal routines just because, for a while, we weren’t able to go and get our normal things done.”

Ward said the pandemic played a role in slowing down the number of people coming in. She said there are fewer mammograms, colonoscopies, and regular screenings being done overall. 

The University of Kansas Health System sees the same. Oncologist Dr. Gary Doolittle said skin cancer diagnoses dropped by 43-to-46%. 

“That’s really worrisome because like many cancers, diagnosing skin cancer early is the key to not only cure but to the procedure that you have to undergo to affect a cure is less invasive,” said Dr. Doolittle. 

Both Dr. Doolittle and Ward said that the sooner you come in, the easier it is to catch something before it becomes unmanageable.

“You need to be your best advocate. If you feel that something is off, something is different or changed, and you’re just not sure what it is, get it checked out,” said Ward.

There is also a push to go in and get checked out as summer wraps up, as this is the time of year when more skin cancer cases are diagnosed.

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