Reschedule your cancer screenings today!
When the coronavirus pandemic reached the U.S., many lives were put on pause. But while you may be focusing on postponed vacations, rescheduled weddings or cancelled graduations, something even more important is being missed by tens of thousands: routine cancer screenings.
If you were scheduled in the past year for a mammogram, Pap test, colorectal cancer screening, PSA test, lung cancer screening, skin check or dental appointment, your doctor or dentist may have cancelled your appointment. As restrictions lift, it’s critical you get those appointments Back on the Books.
Early detection saves lives. Routine cancer screening detects cancer early (even if you have no signs or symptoms!) and increases the likelihood your treatment will be successful. If your doctor’s office is open, don’t wait for them to call you to reschedule. Give them a call today to get your appointment back on the books—and then get in the door for your routine cancer screening.
It’s understandable you might be nervous about visiting your doctor or dentist while the virus is still circulating. But rest assured that your health care providers are taking precautions to keep you and themselves as safe as possible. Talk to your provider’s office and ask what steps they are taking to limit risk of exposure. Some precautions may include:
It’s okay to ask—your health care providers want you to feel safe and comfortable during your visit. Check out the video below to see what our friends at UMass Memorial Health Care are doing to keep their patients safe.
Not sure which routine cancer screenings you should schedule? We are here to help! Check Cancer Screening 101 or look at the chart below for information on the cancer screenings you need at every age. Individuals from each age group should also be following the recommendations of the previous age group, meaning that the screenings you start in your 20s should continue as you age.
In addition to the screenings listed below, visit your dentist every six months so that signs of oral cancer can be detected during your regular visit.
Be sure to ask your health care provider about screenings at your next visit—your needs may differ based on your personal risk factors and family health history.
|50s – 70s||
|20s – 30s||
|50s – 70s||
If I had missed my routine checkup, the doctor would have missed finding precancerous cells. By detecting and removing these cells early, we prevented cancer.”
Read her story
It’s especially important to make sure your kids’ medical appointments are continuing and they are staying on track for vaccinations to keep them safe from preventable (and dangerous!) diseases and illnesses.
For boys and girls ages 11-12, this includes the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine. This vaccine protects against a virus that can cause at least 6 types of cancer. If your kids are in the recommended age range (or are older but haven’t been vaccinated against HPV), it’s important to get them vaccinated to protect against HPV and—ultimately—prevent cancer.
In the wake of the pandemic, 17% of parents had one or more of their children miss a scheduled vaccination. Vaccinations can’t wait—get them back on the books today.
If you missed a colonoscopy and are reluctant to get your appointment back on the books, ask your health care provider about other screening options. There are approved stool-based tests available that can be done without leaving your home.
Please note, however, that not everyone is a candidate for this kind of test (based on risk and other factors), and a positive test would need to be followed up with a colonoscopy. Your insurance plan may require a co-pay for an at-home test or a colonoscopy.
Medical care in the U.S. can be expensive, especially without insurance coverage. If you’ve recently lost your health insurance, there are options available to make sure you and your family are covered.
If you are uninsured or underinsured, check out information on free and low-cost cancer screenings.
Screening guidelines are never one-size-fits-all, even during a pandemic. When deciding when to get your routine screening back on the books, you should weigh the potential risk of exposure to the coronavirus against the potential risk of a late or missed cancer diagnosis. If you are immunocompromised (you have a weakened immune system) or are at high risk of complications from contracting the virus, it may make sense to wait. Call your health care provider for guidance.
Like all vaccines, the COVID-19 vaccine can produce some side effects, including swollen lymph nodes under your arm (the swollen lymph nodes would be under the arm in which you received the injection). If you have a mammogram to screen for breast cancer soon after the injection, swollen lymph nodes could show up on the breast image and prompt concern and/or additional testing that would otherwise be unnecessary.
Do not postpone or cancel your routine mammogram due to this potential side effect without first discussing it with your health care provider. If you have a mammogram soon after you receive the COVID-19 vaccine, be sure to tell your doctor when and in which arm you received the injection.
Have you gotten a routine cancer screening Back on the Books during the pandemic? Let your friends know, and share why cancer screening is so important to staying healthy!