Nationwide campaign launches to boost needed and delayed cancer screenings

April 9, 2021

With studies showing an alarming drop in cancer screenings during 2020, the “Time to Screen” campaign urges anyone needing to schedule a cancer screening, or wondering if they should be screened, to visit or call 1-855-53-SCREEN (1-855-537-2733) for assistance, announced the Community Oncology Alliance (COA). 

The “Time to Screen” effort is a partnership between the COA, a national non-profit advocacy group dedicated solely to independent oncology practices and the patients they serve, and CancerCare, a national non-profit that provides free, professional support services and information to help people manage the emotional, practical, and financial challenges of cancer. 

“COVID-19 has caused many people to delay recommended cancer screenings, which are now at dangerously low levels. ‘Time to Screen’ is a reminder that everyone can now do something essential for their health,” said Kashyap Patel, MD, president of COA and CEO of Carolina Blood and Cancer Care in Rock Hill, South Carolina. “It’s safer to get screened now, rather than delaying getting checked for cancer, because early detection catches cancer when it’s most treatable. It may even save your life.” 

A study published in the November issue of the peer-reviewed journal JCO Clinical Cancer Informatics showed a considerable drop in cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment for older adults in 2020, including an 85 % decline in breast cancer screenings and a 75% decline for colon cancer screenings. Recent data has shown an improvement in cancer screening rates, but average screening rates for the top four cancer types remain down 25% across the country.  

Doctors are seeing an uptick in late-stage cancer diagnoses and are concerned this trend will continue unless more Americans follow recommendations to promptly get screened. Community oncologists report that they are already starting to see the traumatic results of delayed or cancelled screenings, as cancers caught at later stages require more complex treatments, resulting in higher morbidity, or worse, death.  

The “Time to Screen” campaign makes it easy for anyone to learn how to schedule an appointment at a convenient location and learn more about the importance of early cancer detection. The campaign provides assistance and educational resources, including the toll-free hotline and website featuring information on screenings for breast, colorectal, cervical, prostate, lung, and skin (melanoma) cancer. The campaign will also feature multi-media advertising, television and radio interviews, and more. 

Support for the Time to Screen campaign is provided in part by Bristol Myers Squibb, Genentech, Amgen, Heron Therapeutics, Incyte, Janssen, Pharmacyclics, Daiichi Sankyo, Inc., Eisai, Inc., EMD Serono, Merck, Pfizer, and Takeda. 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends routine screenings for certain types of cancer among many people age 40 and up. Preventative screenings help people maintain their health, especially for those who have a family history of cancer, because it may help detect some cancers in their earliest, most treatable stages. Experts say screening facilities are ready to take patients and can do so safely. Facilities are following CDC guidelines to keep people safe, including testing for COVID-19 symptoms among health care staff and patients, requiring face covering, and limiting crowds. 

Community Oncology Alliance has the release

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