Published on October 25, 2021

GCC urges patients to schedule cancer screening

Gibson Cancer Center building

Gibson Cancer Center, an affiliate of UNC Health Southeastern, has joined a nationwide effort to encourage patients to resume appropriate cancer screening and follow-up care to prevent excess deaths.

GCC is urging people across the country to talk with their health care provider to resume regular primary care checkups and recommended cancer screening. This has the potential to lessen the negative impact that the pandemic is having on identifying and treating people with cancer.

Throughout the pandemic, many health care resources were redirected to combat rising COVID-19 cases and to prevent the spread of the virus. Elective medical procedures, including cancer screening, were largely put on hold at the onset of the pandemic. The impact was immediate as screening related procedures dropped drastically in March, April, and May 2020 according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). Estimates also project 35 perent of Americans missed routine cancer screening due to COVID-19 related fears and service disruptions. ACS foresees that the pandemic-related reductions in health care access and cancer screening will result in a short-term drop in cancer diagnoses and a later corresponding increase in late-state diagnoses and preventable deaths.

GCC has implemented numerous infection control measures to provide a safe environment for people to receive important medical care during the pandemic. These steps include: screening, sanitization between patients, and mask requirements for staff, patients and visitors.

“Simply put, regular cancer screening tests can improve and save your life,” said Steve Elgin, administrative director for GCC. “Screening increases the chance of detecting some cancers early, when they may be easier to treat. We’re encouraging everyone in our community to talk to their doctor or a health care professional about getting on track with their recommended cancer screening.”

Screening refers to testing individuals who have no signs or symptoms of disease. It is critical to ensure that patients with signs or symptoms associated with cancer undergo diagnostic evaluation as soon as possible. Breast cancer remains the leading cause of cancer death among women and colorectal cancer is the third most common cause of death among men and women in the US, yet nearly one in three people for whom screening is recommended were not up-to-date with screening prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For more information about cancer screening, visit www.cancer.org/healthy/find-cancer-early.html or contact the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227- 2345.

To learn more about Gibson Cancer Center, visit https://www.srmc.org/care-treatment/cancer/