RENO—Now is the time to get back to routine health care. That’s the message shared this week by health care providers in Nevada who say they’ve seen a dramatic decline in routine cancer screenings since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Currently 1 in 3 adults are not being screened as recommended,” said Maria Lizette Partida, Cancer Care Coordinator at Community Health Alliance. Partida is part of the push to get people screened for breast, cervical and colorectal cancers.
Nationwide, March is recognized as Colorectal Cancer Awareness Month, intended to encourage people to get screened for the disease. Colon cancer is the third most common cancer in Nevada, and it’s the second deadliest cancer for men and third for women. Screening is recommended for adults 45 or older, but may begin earlier based on certain risk factors such as family history of the disease.
According to a statement from the non-profit Nevada Cancer Coalition, citing data from the National Cancer Institute, pandemic-related delays in cancer screening and treatment are predicted to lead to nearly 10,000 additional deaths in the U.S. from breast and colorectal cancer within the next decade. Many Nevadans, they say, put off regular screening procedures due to the pandemic.
“Regular screenings can prevent colorectal cancer as a polyp can take 10-15 years to develop into cancer,” Partida said. “When colorectal cancer is detected at an early stage, the five-year relative survival rate is about 90%.”
Screening for colorectal cancer can be performed via two methods. The most common, and according to health experts the gold standard for prevention of the disease, is a colonoscopy performed every five to ten years. Newer screening tests, such as the FIT test or fecal DNA test, look for signs of cancer in a stool sample. Those must be done annually to be effective.
More information on colorectal cancer screening is available at https://nevadacancercoalition.org/early-detection/colorectal-cancer.