Deaths from cancer are expected to increase over the next decade as a result of screening deficits due to the COVID-19 pandemic. New research published by Wiley online in CANCER, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, reveals the extent of screening deficits in breast, colorectal, lung, and cervical cancers across the United States and describes the efforts that clinics are making to address missed screenings.
The study was initiated by the American College of Surgeons Cancer Programs and the American Cancer Society, 748 accredited cancer programs in the United States were enrolled from April 2021 through June 2021.
Most facilities reported monthly screening deficits: the percentages reporting deficits for colorectal, cervical, breast, and lung cancer screening were 80.6%, 69.0%, 55.3%, and 44.6%, respectively. Geographic differences were not observed based on where the cancer programs were located across the United States.
Using these results, the participating accredited cancer programs initiated a total of 814 quality improvement projects to address various barriers to screening. The effects of these interventions on screening rates through 2021 are being assessed, but the estimated numbers of potential additional monthly screening tests if all participating facilities reach their target goals are 57,141 for breast cancer, 6,079 for colorectal cancer, 4,280 for cervical cancer, and 1,744 for lung cancer.
The study is especially timely given that the American Cancer Society's National Consortium for Cancer Screening and Care recently announced nine consensus recommendations to accelerate recovery from the pandemic and improve the nation's ability to provide quality cancer screening and care for all.