Cancer Screenings During the Pandemic: Do Now or Wait??>

Cancer Screenings During the Pandemic: Do Now or Wait?

by Peter Jaret  

If you’re due for a preventive cancer screening, you should consult with your doctor about whether to proceed or wait. The final decision depends on several factors. The American Cancer Society suggests that you and your doctor consider the following questions:

  • What is your risk for the type of cancer you’re being screened for? Is the risk of postponing cancer screening bigger than the risk you face from Covid-19?
  • How involved is the type of screening test you would have?
  • How common is Covid-19 in your area, and what are local health officials recommendingabout getting health care services right now?
  • What is your risk for complications if you were to be infected with the coronavirus?
  • What measures are being taken by the screening center to protect visitors from Covid-19?

Some experts suggest that people due for a colonoscopy use an alternative means of screening during the pandemic so as not to delay detection of possible signs of colorectal cancer. If your doctor thinks a colonoscopy may be too risky for you at this time, he or she may instead suggest a fecal immunochemical test (FIT), which is an easy-to-use in-home screening kit that can detect blood in the stool.

Do not delay calling your doctor if you see or feel anything suspicious, such as a breast lump, blood in the stool, a sore that won’t heal, or a change of appearance in a mole.

This article first appeared in the August 2020 issue of UC Berkeley Health After 50.