Alarming new study shows pandemic is disrupting cancer screenings.

Early detection saves lives. Experts fear ongoing trend will cost them.

Published on February 25, 2022

Updated on June 30, 2022


Kyra Meister

Percentage of Americans Not Aware of Cancer Screenings & Not Planning to Go

Click image to enlarge.

Alexandria, Va. – After two years of navigating the coronavirus pandemic, Americans’ health care routines continue to be disrupted. The latest survey from the Prevent Cancer Foundation, the only U.S.-based nonprofit organization focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection, 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. While the Foundation’s previous survey in May 2021 showed more people making it to their appointments, these gains have now been erased for certain age groups and demographics, likely a result of the highly contagious omicron variant that emerged at the end of 2021.

“The setback seen in our latest wave of survey results is disheartening; however, these results help to inform opportunities for communication that can be used by individuals and organizations dedicated to improving health. As the omicron wave subsides, we hope everyone will get their appointments ‘back on the books’ and will encourage others to do the same,” said Jody Hoyos, President and COO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation. 

Holding steady from earlier findings, one-half of Americans who had a scheduled in-person medical appointment missed, postponed and/or cancelled one or more of these appointments. Some other areas of concern include:

  • Nearly two in five (39%) adults ages 55 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.¹
  • 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).
    • Out of all ethnicities surveyed, Hispanics (46%) were the most likely to miss a scheduled appointment.
  • 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). 
Not Aware of Cancer Screenings Recommended to Them (by Race & Ethnicity)

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As we look to the future, 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. Learn what screenings are recommended for you. 

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%). 


  1. American Cancer Society. Cancer Facts & Figures 2022. Atlanta: American Cancer Society; 2022. 


About the Prevent Cancer Foundation® 

The Prevent Cancer Foundation® is the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on saving lives across all populations through cancer prevention and early detection. Through research, education, outreach and advocacy, we have helped countless people avoid a cancer diagnosis or detect their cancer early enough to be successfully treated.

The Foundation is rising to meet the challenge of reducing cancer deaths by 40% by 2035. To achieve this, we are committed to investing $20 million for innovative technologies to detect cancer early and advance multi-cancer screening, $10 million to expand cancer screening and vaccination access to medically underserved communities, and $10 million to educate the public about screening and vaccination options. For more information, please visit

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