Cancer screening rates nosedive amid pandemic, Epic data shows

The amount of Americans undergoing routine cancer screenings has plummeted during the pandemic, according to Epic data cited by STAT.

Epic researchers examined EHR data from 2.7 million patients who underwent at least one screening for cervical, breast or colon cancer between 2017 and 2019. The data represents 190 hospitals across 23 states.

Researchers found breast and cervical cancer screenings dropped 94 percent in March compared to average figures for 2017-19. Colon cancer screenings fell 86 percent. 

Researchers also discovered a higher rate of canceled screening appointments before official stay-at-home orders were implemented and national medical societies recommended patients delay nonessential outpatient care. 

"We're also fairly convinced that even once they lift the lockdowns, we'll still see the concerned patients a little bit more reluctant to go in," Epic President Carl Dvorak told STAT. "Truthfully, it doesn't take much to talk a person out of going in for a colonoscopy."

While Epic's findings only represent a small portion of cancer screenings nationwide, they help show the magnitude of care gaps caused by the pandemic, STAT noted.

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