Cancer screenings rebound after COVID-19

Researchers found cancer screenings are rebounding, but new advanced cancer diagnoses are not rising, Epic Research reported Feb. 17.

The recent study evaluated more than 373,000 cancer diagnoses entered in patients' charts between January 2018 and December 2022. The drop in cancer cases early in the pandemic correlated with the decrease in screenings.

Previous studies found between 11 percent and 36 percent of participants delayed screenings because of the pandemic. More than one-third delayed colonoscopies, 27 percent delayed a pap smear and nearly one-quarter delayed a mammogram, according to the findings.

Screening rates have since returned to normal, according to the Epic Research report. However, there was not an increased rate in cancer diagnoses in 2020 through 2022 compared to pre-pandemic numbers. In addition, new diagnoses of advanced cancers did not rise, according to the report.

"While our data does not show an increase in advanced cancers, it might take years to fully realize the impact of missed screenings, especially for cancers with longer recommended intervals between screenings," the researchers said in the report.

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