Minimal data are available regarding the pandemic’s impact on cancer screening between diverse health care settings by various screening tests, and across demographic groups. The National Cancer Institute’s Population-based Research to Optimize the Screening Process (PROSPR) consortium compared breast, cervical, colorectal, and lung cancer screening rates before and after the pandemic and developed recommendations including:
- Broader implementation of remote testing to reduce the need for in person visits
- Screening outreach programs that intentionally target patients in highest social risk including demographic groups who are less likely to spontaneously seek or complete screening.
- Rapid implementation of risk stratification tools to identify those at highest medical risk factors (including lack of prior screening) and those at lowest risk, who are unlikely to benefit from screening.
- Infection control measures to maximize patients and staff safety, such as pre-procedure testing, including effective communication to decrease patient concerns regarding screening.
- Customized cancer screening practices, coordinated with local SARS-CoV-2 risk, to maximize screening test completion in areas with low viral prevalence.
- Real-time demographic data for early identification of screening service uptake disparities.
This is a pretty impactful study, and the results are not surprising. As we come out on the other side of this pandemic, we don’t need to be faced with an illness that could have been avoided through preventive care. We have all been consumed with caring for our residents and staff, but please take the time to take care of YOU! Stay the course, stay well, mask up, roll up your sleeve and stay tuned!