October 9, 2020
The American Society of Clinical Oncology (ASCO) recently conducted its fourth annual National Cancer Opinion Survey, which polled 4,012 people—including 1,142 people who have or have had cancer. The results provided a few key findings.
Nearly 25% of respondents reported they had cancelled or delayed their routine cancer screenings. Of those who missed their screenings, 66% said it was their decision—not under the advice of their health care provider. However, most understood that screenings are important, as 61% of people who missed appointments were concerned about falling behind and how it could impact their health.
The survey also revealed respondents have been neglecting lifestyle behaviors to help reduce their cancer risk. Only 48% reported using sunscreen consistently, only 47% were maintaining a healthy weight and only 42% were limiting alcohol consumption.
“While delaying recommended screenings for a few months is not necessarily dangerous, our biggest concern is that a significant number of Americans might stop getting preventive care for long periods of time or altogether,” said ASCO Chief Medical Officer Richard L. Schilsky, MD, FACP, FSCT, FASCO. “Cancer screenings are critical for detecting cancer early, and early detection is key to successfully treating many cancers. We need to make sure people continue to get their routine, evidence-based cancer screenings within a reasonable time period.”
The findings from ASCO’s survey mirrors those of a Prevent Cancer Foundation survey conducted in May which found 43% of Americans missed routine appointments because of COVID-19, 35% missed a cancer screening that had been scheduled during the pandemic and 22% said they planned to cancel or postpone a routine medical appointment or screening scheduled within 3 months.
It is critically important to maintain routine cancer screenings. They are crucial to detecting cancer earlier when treatment is more likely to be successful. When you go to an appointment, continue to protect yourself by wearing a mask, maintain physical distance when possible and washing your hands.
Learn more about how you can get your cancer screenings Back on the Books.
In the U.S. in 2020:
The tragic death of Chadwick Boseman highlights this alarming increase. At just 43 years old (age 39 at the age of diagnosis), you may think he was “too young” or that it was “just a fluke.” But in fact, Mr. Boseman is part of a growing trend of colorectal cancer in adults under 50.
Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), insurers are required to cover any service the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force (USPSTF) rates as an “A” or “B” (colorectal cancer screening for adults ages 50-75 has an “A” rating)—meaning anyone under 50 will have an out-of-pocket cost for their screening. The USPSTF is currently reviewing its guidelines, and they need to hear that their decision can save lives! Sign our petition to increase access to colorectal cancer screening for adults ages 45-49.
Raise your voice and ensure we won’t lose any more of our heroes—on screen or off.
In our last newsletter, we reported the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) had a pending guidance on the emergency use authorization for potential COVD-19 vaccines. On Tuesday, the FDA released the new rules as several pharmaceutical companies enter the final stages of clinical trials for COVID-19 vaccines.
Despite the progress these companies have made through clinical trials, it is very unlikely a finished product will not be widely available until summer or fall of 2021.
While the guidelines are not a mandate, they are an outline to help manufacturers get their product approved with sufficient data. The FDA has advised vaccine developers to monitor half of participants for at least two months following their final dose of vaccine before applying for an emergency authorization. They also suggested developers wait until at least five severe cases of COVID-19 have received the placebo (the standard of care—not the experimental product) to better understand how the product compares with standard treatment.
As we await a vaccine, please continue to protect yourself and others by following guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Because cancer treatments can often weaken a patient’s immune system, they are at a higher risk of infection. Maintaining simple measures like wearing a mask and social distancing can help further protect yourself from COVID-19.