Doctors urge people to not miss cancer screening appointments

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MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- Doctors say they're glad people understand the seriousness of COVID-19. However, cancer is a deadly disease and it requires the same medical attention.

“What we’re really trying to do is get people out and get their cancer screening tests done," Dr. Sam Lubner said. He is an oncologist at UW-Health Carbone Cancer Center.

Patients have been cancelling their cancer screening and prevention appointments since the start of the pandemic.

“Which results in 35 million cancer screening appointments that were just missed," Dr. Lubner said.

He says those missed appointments can mean the difference between life and death.

“Failing to diagnose cancer in an early stage leads to more symptoms, more cancer mortality."

Many people stay away from the doctor’s office in fear of getting COVID -19.

“They can’t put their preventative screenings on hold because of a theoretical risk of virus transmission. We’ve made the offices as safe as they can be.” 

For some people, it may be lack of insurance. 

“The economic insecurity and the loss of insurance as a result of employment changes during the pandemic has affected patients' ability to get access," he said. “Patients who don’t have the same kind of access, we need to find them.” 

There are also people who may not even know they have a form of cancer. 

“There are cancers that are undiagnosed because people didn’t come for their asymptomatic screening appointments, so we know that cancer is out there. It didn’t magically disappear, so we need to encourage people to get back in.” 

Dr. Lubner also tells CBS 58 there’s been drastic improvement detecting cancer early over the years. If people continue to miss appointments, this would put them ten steps back.

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