The Prevent Cancer Foundation,* the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection, is sounding the alarm on a pending health crisis.
Results from a long-term survey demonstrate how preventive healthcare is suffering a devastating impact from COVID-19. Based on the outcomes of the study, the researchers fear that this will become a major trend that will result in more people being diagnosed with late-stage cancers.
“After two years of navigating the coronavirus pandemic, health care routines continue to be disrupted,” noted Jody Hoyos, President, and Chief Operating Officer at the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
“Americans who canceled or put off their screenings during the pandemic aren’t rescheduling them. People aren’t getting screened. We know with cancer –routine doctor appointments and early screening save lives. With the support of our corporate partners, Hologic, AstraZeneca, Genentech, and New Century Health, we are taking action by encouraging Americans to get their screenings “Back on the Books.’”
“With “Back on the Books” we make it easy for people to find a doctor and to find out what screenings they need to stay healthy. And we also help doctors looking to reconnect with their patients.”
The latest survey from the Prevent Cancer Foundation shows an alarming trend of Americans continuing to miss their routine doctor’s appointments and cancer screenings. Survey respondents continue to cite a desire to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 as the number one reason for missing these appointments. This long-term study shows declines are holding steady from earlier waves, one-half of Americans who had a scheduled in-person medical appointment missed, postponed and/or canceled one or more of these appointments.
Some other areas of concern include:
- Nearly two in five (39%) adults 55 years of age and older who had an appointment scheduled during the pandemic missed it. This is an increase from 34% in May 2021. Screening is important at all ages, but the likelihood of developing cancer increases greatly with age. 80% of the people diagnosed with cancer in the U.S. are 55 years of age or older and 57% are 65 or older.
- Minorities are most likely to be missing their appointments.
- There was a significant increase in the number of Native Americans who missed appointments as a result of the pandemic. (30% in December 2020, 34% in May 2021, and 43% in January 2022.)
- One in two (50%) of adults ages 18-34 are significantly more likely to have still not caught up on all missed appointments. (Compared to 36% in December 2020 and 45% in May 2021).
- One in five (20%) females or trans-males missed their mammogram appointments due to the pandemic. (Compared to 17% of females in May 2021.) This overall increase in missed mammograms was driven by a significant increase among adults ages 55 and older. (15% in December 2020, 20% in May 2021, and 32% in January 2022.)
The survey shows that more than three in five (62%) of Americans have a routine medical appointment planned in the next three months—but this number decreased from May 2021 (67%). This decrease is predominantly driven by adults ages 18-34 (66% in May 2021 compared to 58% in January 2022) and Hispanics (73% in May 2021 compared to 63% in January 2022).
The good news is that children’s health has been made a priority. One in five parents (20%) indicate one or more of their children have missed a scheduled vaccination due to the pandemic.
This represents a significant decrease since May 2021 (26%) and suggests parents may be “catching up” on their children’s vaccinations.
Early detection saves lives.
“Routine cancer screening can detect cancer early, even if you have no signs or symptoms, and increases the likelihood your treatment will be successful. We need to prioritize getting routine cancer screenings and appointments back on the books,” Jody Hoyos concluded.
* Prevent Cancer Foundation® commissioned Russell Research to conduct a survey among U.S. adults ages 18 and older to evaluate the impact of the pandemic on cancer screenings among Americans, with a focus on different ethnic and cultural groups (January 2022, MOE +/- 3.1%).
 American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2022.