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VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital Urges Patients to Schedule Cancer Screenings

woman meeting with doctor

VCU Health Community Memorial Hospital (VCU Health CMH) has joined a nationwide effort to encourage patients to resume appropriate cancer screening to prevent excess deaths.

VCU Health CMH is urging people across the country to talk with their health care provider to resume regular primary care checkup and recommended cancer screening. This has the potential to lessen the negative impact that the pandemic could have on identifying and treating people with cancer.

Throughout the pandemic, many healthcare resources were redirected to combat rising COVID-19 cases and to prevent the spread of the virus. Elective medical procedures, including cancer screening, were largely put on hold at the onset of the pandemic. The impact was immediate as screening related procedures dropped drastically in March and May 2020 according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Estimates also project 35% of Americans missed routine cancer screening due to COVID-19 related fears and service disruptions during that time frame. ACS foresees that the pandemic-related reductions in health care access and cancer screening may result in a short-term drop in cancer diagnoses and a later corresponding increase in late-state diagnoses and preventable deaths.

VCU Health CMH has implemented numerous infection prevention measures to provide a safe environment for people to receive important medical care during the pandemic. These steps include:

  • Temperature checks and screening questions upon entry.
  • Everyone in the hospital setting still must wear a mask.
  • Limited visitation restrictions are still in place.
  • Examination rooms are thoroughly cleaned between patients.

“Simply put, regular cancer screening tests can improve and save your life,” said Medical Oncologist Nemer El Mouallem, Jr., MD. “Screening increases the chance of detecting some cancers early, when they may be easier to treat. We’re encouraging everyone in our community to talk to their doctor or a health care professional about getting on track with their recommended cancer screenings.”

Screening refers to testing individuals who have no signs or symptoms of disease. The most common screening tests for individuals without symptoms include mammograms, colonoscopies, PSA blood tests, skin exams, and low-dose lung CT scans for active or former smokers. Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women while prostate cancer is the leading cause of cancer death among men. Lung cancer is the second and colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of cancer death among men and women in the U.S. Yet nearly one in three people for whom screening is recommended were not up-to-date with screening prior to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

 

Discuss with your PCP if you haven't had worrisome symptoms evaluated, or if you meet criteria for cancer screening. Contact (434) 584-2273 if you do not have a PCP. For more information about cancer screening, visit www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early.html or contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345.