SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – Health experts are encouraging people to make cancer screening a regular part of their health checkups, similar to how you schedule oil changes and tune-ups for your vehicle. Concerns about COVID have people worried about visiting their doctors for tests and checkups. Health experts say, safety procedures are in place to help keep you safe and important tests and medical visits should not be delayed.

According the the American Cancer Society, the COVID-19 pandemic has had a profound impact on cancer screening across the country. At the beginning of the pandemic, cancer screening rates decreased by nearly 90% for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer. Throughout 2020, cancer screening rates rebounded somewhat, but recent reports indicate at least a 30% decline in the number of cancer screening tests being done compared to pre-pandemic years. The goal is to meet, and ideally, exceed, pre-pandemic screening rates for breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer.

The ACS expects that a return to regular cancer screening will be a slow process – even with necessary vaccines. Additionally, while vaccines may alleviate safety concerns for some, there are still added barriers to getting screened. Many people have lost their jobs and their health insurance as a result of the pandemic, so lack of insurance and high health care costs remain top reasons for why some people are hesitant to be screened.

Why are screenings so important? The ACS says about one out of three Americans will get cancer in their lifetime, but finding cancer early means it may be easier to treat. Regular screening tests can save your life. Cancers of the breast, cervix, colon and rectum, and lung can be detected by screening tests, which means finding these cancers early, before they become advanced, increases the chance that treatment will be more successful.

ACS recommends talking to your doctor or a health care provider about cancer screening. Talk about your personal and family history so they understand your risk factors and can advise when you’re due for screening and how often you should get screened. Also, be sure to talk to your doctor about any cancer screening tests that may have been delayed or missed because of the pandemic. It is important to get those rescheduled as soon as you can.

Learn more about cancer screening online by clicking here.