Is It Safe to Postpone a Cancer Screening?
Because the situation surrounding COVID-19 is constantly evolving, some information may not be up to date. Stay informed by following information from your local officials and by visiting the CDC website.
When COVID-19 cases started popping up around the country, many hospitals temporarily halted 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. Luke’s Health, patient safety is our top priority. All of our healthcare facilities have implemented procedures to screen 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.
“[Whether or not someone can postpone a cancer screening] depends on their individual risk, family history, and other health conditions,” said Dr. Mothaffar Rimawi, executive medical director of the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at Baylor St. Luke’s Medical Center. “We strongly recommend having these discussions with a medical professional.”
Scheduling a screening is especially important if you notice any symptoms of cancer.
“Any patient with a symptom of possible cancer should not postpone screening,” said Dr. Angela Coscio, an oncologist at the Dan L Duncan Comprehensive Cancer Center at The Woodlands Hospital. “This includes women who feel a lump in their breast, for whom a mammogram should not be delayed. Patients at high risk of cancer, such as those with known BRCA1 or BRCA2 or other genetic mutations, should not postpone screening. Other patients may postpone up to 3 months, but any further postponing should be discussed with their physician.”
If it’s time for you to get a cancer screening, schedule an appointment with a St. Luke’s 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.