Can You Postpone a Cancer Screening?

When COVID-19 cases started popping up around the country, many hospitals temporarily halted elective procedures, including cancer screenings, to prevent the spread of disease. Now that we are able to offer these services again, we want to let you know that not only is it safe to come for a cancer screening — it’s also essential for your health.

Facilities Are Taking Precautions to Keep Patients Safe

At St. Joseph Health, patient safety is our top priority. All of our healthcare facilities have implemented procedures to screen everyone for potential COVID-19 symptoms and require patients and staff to wear masks at all times. Patients should only bring a person with them to their appointments if they serve as a caregiver, and we enforce social distancing within all areas of the hospital. We also thoroughly disinfect areas after every patient to prevent the spread of germs.

Early Detection Often Leads to Better Patient Outcomes

When cancer cells first begin dividing in the body, there are only a few in one concentrated area, making it relatively simple to eradicate them. If these cells go unchecked, they can continue to divide and spread throughout the body, sometimes taking up residence in another organ, bone, or blood-forming tissue. As the cells travel, they become harder to treat and fully remove. The five-year survival rate for people with stage I cancer is much higher than that of someone with stage IV cancer. Regular screenings are beneficial, as they allow doctors to catch cancer when it is most treatable. Scheduling a screening is especially important if you notice any symptoms of cancer.

“In general, cancer screening is still important because it allows for detection of earlier stage disease, and this translates to less intensive treatment and better outcomes,” said Dr. Jamie Pawlowski, a radiation oncologist with St. Joseph Medical Group. “However, this should not be a blanket statement for everybody because certain individuals that are more susceptible to COVID may need to weigh the risks of an in-person screening and discuss it with their doctor prior to scheduling. Also, it’s important to distinguish screening from symptoms (for example, somebody who notices a breast lump or blood in stool), because a person who is symptomatic should not postpone their diagnostic evaluation.”

If it’s time for you to get a cancer screening, schedule an appointment with a St. Joseph Health specialist today. Whether it’s for breast, cervical, prostate, skin, or another type of cancer, our team is ready to provide safe, compassionate care.

American Cancer Society | Survival Rates for Breast Cancer

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