Cancer screenings plummet in US amid coronavirus pandemic: report

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Medical tests for detecting and monitoring certain diseases have greatly decreased in the U.S. during the coronavirus outbreak, according to a report on Tuesday.

Cervical cancer screenings fell by 68 percent, cholesterol panels were down 67 percent, and the blood sugar test to detect diabetes decreased by 65 percent in the U.S., as residents obey stay-at-home orders.

In the report, Komodo Health -- which has a vast medical claims database -- found that millions of Americans have postponed tests that are considered imperative for detecting and monitoring certain diseases.

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“We’re seeing a tremendous impact on preventative care, as well as on chronic conditions with massive implications for the health care system,” said Komodo Health Chief Executive Dr. Arif Nathoo, according to Reuters. “It speaks volumes to just how much COVID is impacting everyone’s health and wellness.”

The company said it looked at the billing records of 320 million patients across the country between March 19 to April 20 and compared it to the previous 11 weeks -- as well as a similar period last year.

The report found that areas hit hardest by the virus also saw the steepest decline in preventive testing for certain conditions, according to the news organization.

A1c blood tests -- which provides information about a person's average blood-sugar level and is the primary test for diabetes management -- fell by more than 90 percent in Manhattan.

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Massachusetts saw cholesterol testing fall by more than 80 percent, while cervical cancer screening in California was down by roughly 76 percent.

Dr. David Tom Cooke, head of general thoracic surgery at UC-Davis Health in California, said his cancer patients are getting treatment. However, because of a lack of certain screenings, new cancers may go undiagnosed until they hit advanced stages.

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“We’re not doing cancer screenings, such as mammography for breast cancer, and lung cancer screening,” he said, according to Reuters. “There is concern that we are delaying standard of care treatment for patients with potentially curable cancers.”