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Oncologists concerned about people putting off important screenings during COVID-19

Oncologists concerned about people putting off important screenings during COVID-19
Oncologists concerned about people putting off important screenings during COVID-19(Brookwood Baptist Medical Center)
Updated: Apr. 29, 2020 at 9:02 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - A lot of people have been trying to avoid any medical office during COVID-19 in fear of catching the virus.

And that means people, some with symptoms and family history, could be putting off life saving screenings.

Oncologists are now trying to figure out how to handle a backlog of people who may have put off preventative screenings like mammograms and colonoscopies during the pandemic.

Dr. David Mooney is a Hematologist/Oncologist with Hematology & Oncology Associates of Alabama, and an affiliated physician of Brookwood Baptist Medical Center.

Dr. Mooney said for the last six to eight weeks, they haven’t really been doing any of those routine screenings like a mammogram, colonoscopy, or pap smear.

And he said that's appropriate because those routine screenings help catch slow-growing cancers that could develop over months and years.

But what he's concerned about is the people who haven't received screenings who may have a history, a family history, or might be displaying symptoms.

He said when the Safer-At-Home order goes into place, they’re expecting more people to come in.

"Patients with a new breast mass that may be putting off going to see the doctor and saying, 'Well, I don't want to risk getting COVID.' Patients with new rectal bleeding, unexplained weight loss, shortness of breath, those types of things. Those are what we're worried about. Those symptomatic cancers are the ones that are usually more aggressive," said Dr. Mooney.

He said those cancers could be a case where waiting the extra month could be the difference between an early stage cancer and finding a cancer that might be tougher to treat or might not be curable.

Dr. Mooney said if you have those symptoms, you need to get in touch with your doctor immediately.

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