Doctors warn against the dangers of missing annual health screenings during the pandemic

Health Watch

GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — Screenings and checkups have dramatically decreased across the nation as the COVID-19 pandemic has taken a front seat over the last year and a half.

According to doctors we spoke with, there’s been a nearly 90% drop in the rate at which people are getting checkups and screenings since the start of the pandemic. Now, doctors and professors alike are saying the impacts of those missed appointments could be fatal.

“There is no reason why people should delay their cancer screenings,” said Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar, an Associate Professor at East Carolina University and Vidant Medical. “The benefit of getting cancer screenings far outweighs the risk of COVID.”

As the pandemic raged, health screenings suffered.

“We already know by one estimate an additional 10,000 lives may be lost because of that delay.”

Doctors across the nation are urging people to continue on with their screenings for cancer and other diseases, as the alternative could be fatal.

“It’s not often that you wouldn’t have a type of cancer where there is a way where you could detect it or prevent it early actually and that is by screening,” said Muzaffar.

Muzaffar is an Associate Professor at East Carolina University and Vidant Medical. She says screenings can catch these issues early.

Your cure rates are almost 90-100%

Dr. Mahvish Muzaffar, Associate Professor at East Carolina University and Vidant Medical

With October being breast cancer awareness month, Muzaffar says now is a great time to work on getting in those routine check-ups once again.

“The reality is 1 in 8 women, and often people think ‘well I won’t be that,’ but 1 in 8 American women have a lifetime risk of having breast cancer,” said Muzaffar.

Noting it’s important to look out for possible warning signs and symptoms.

“You feel a lump in your breast, you feel one breast is more swollen than the other, you may notice skin change redness or some retraction like peeling of the skin,” Muzaffar said.

She says in some cases, it can all come down to some of the choices you make.

“You could also reduce your risk of getting cancer by leading a healthy lifestyle,” said Muzaffar.

Click here for more information on breast cancer awareness month and ways to keep yourself safe.

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