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A missed opportunity: annual screenings are essential

Contemporary OB/GYN Journal, Vol 67 No 7, Volume 67, Issue 7

It is imperative for you and your patients that annual screenings be conducted on time to that ensure irregularities are caught as early as possible.

Regular health screenings are essential to maintaining overall health and critical for detecting when something is not right with your body. As every obstetrician and gynecologist knows, for women, early cancer detection through annual breast and gynecologic screenings is key for optimal treatment and management.

At times, however, events like the COVID-19 pandemic can intervene and cause patients to miss or skip yearly screenings, thus losing an opportunity to detect an abnormality early. In fact, a recent survey published in JAMA Open Network found that between 2018 and 2020, breast and cervical cancer screenings decreased by 6% and 11%, respectively.¹ The authors discovered that “early in the pandemic when routine procedures were paused, [breast cancer] screening volumes decreased more sharply among Hispanic, Asian, and American Indian and Alaska Native[s].”

According to Ahmedin Jemal, DVM, PhD, senior study author, and senior vice president of the American Cancer Society, the “COVID-19 pandemic had an immediate impact in March and April of 2020, as screenings initially dropped by close to 80%,” and although “many people caught up on screenings later in 2020 . . . overall, the . . . pandemic kept screenings down over the course of the entire year. As we move forward, it’s crucial to get people back into their doctor’s offices to get screened.”

Aside from delayed detection, misdiagnosis can also alter treatment. In this month's issue, you’ll find our Legally Speaking column, written by Jim M. Shwayder, MD, JD; and Hindi Stohl, MD, JD, which discusses how clinicians can prevent, and navigate, a breast cancer misdiagnosis.

Remember that, as Jemal pointed out, it is imperative for you and your
patients that annual screenings be conducted on time to that ensure irregularities are caught as early as possible.

Mike Hennessy Jr

Publisher and CEO, MJH Life Sciences®

Reference

1. Fedewa SA, Star J, Bandi P, et al. Changes in cancer screening in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic. JAMA Netw Open. 2022;5(6):e2215490. doi:10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2022.15490