In midst of COVID-19 epidemic, postpone routine cancer screenings

Published on April 3, 2020

Updated on April 9, 2020

Contact: Lisa Berry Edwards

Keeping up with recommended cancer screenings is an important part of staying healthy and preventing cancer, or detecting it early when successful treatment is more likely. But in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, experts say that in order to protect your health, the best move is to postpone routine cancer screenings.

Routine screenings are screenings for patients who are not experiencing any signs or symptoms of cancer. These can include screenings for breast, cervical, colorectal, lung, oral, prostate or skin cancers. If you are experiencing symptoms, it’s important to call your health care professional for guidance. They may be able to evaluate you virtually through a telemedicine appointment or can advise you on the risks and benefits of getting checked out now.

Postponing routine cancer screenings at this time will mitigate risk of exposure to the virus for both you and your health care team and will conserve limited health system resources. Make sure you are still prioritizing your health during this time by following the ways to reduce your cancer risk, including eating a healthy diet, getting at least 30 minutes of physical activity at least 5 days a week and protecting your skin from the sun. (Since physical distancing restrictions mean you can’t go to the gym, try walking or biking in your neighborhood, streaming at-home workouts on your TV or doing jumping jacks, pushups and situps with your family.)

You can also do your part to help slow the spread by using the COVID Symptom Tracker to self-report daily, even if you are well. The questionnaire takes one minute to complete and includes questions for cancer patients and survivors.

When the risk of COVID-19 has passed, it is critically important you reschedule these appointments. Cancer screenings save lives—and getting back on track with screenings may save yours.

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