ALEXANDRIA, Virginia – The COVID-19 pandemic increased the doubt among women to attend their routine and potentially life-saving cancer screenings, but a recent survey indicates intent to “go back to their appointments.”
The Prevent Cancer Foundation published a survey conducted in August 2021 of 2,003 women and persons assigned women at birth between the ages of 21 and 60 located throughout the United States.
The survey shows mixed results for long-term cancer prevention.
The Foundation is the only US-based non-profit organization focused exclusively on cancer prevention and early detection.
90 percent of women say that when local restrictions on the pandemic were lifted, they engaged in normal activities, such as visiting family and friends, eating out, and shopping, but only 48 percent of women visited. doctors’ offices, according to the survey.
The Foundation encourages women to prioritize routine preventive care, such as annual exams and cancer screenings.
“With September as Gynecological Cancer Awareness Month and October as Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there is an opportunity to put the spotlight on women’s health and increase cancer prevention and early detection,” she stated. Jody Hoyos, president and CEO of the Prevent Cancer Foundation.
“We are hopeful that awareness will lead us to action and that women can receive their preventive exams and return to their appointments,” he agreed.
The survey revealed that 74 percent of women who received the COVID-19 vaccine were hesitant to visit a doctor’s office during the first year and a half of the pandemic and that 31 percent of women who did not schedule a breast or cervical exam said they were concerned about being exposed to the coronavirus.
28 percent of all women surveyed did not schedule breast cancer screening and 26 percent did not schedule cervical cancer screening during the pandemic.
“These cancer screenings are some of the most important steps women can take to take care of their health, even during the pandemic when other obligations may have taken higher priority,” said Alexandra Rodríguez, an obstetrician and gynecologist.
“Annual visits to the doctor can play a critical role in detecting cancer before physical signs or symptoms appear. The earlier the cancer is found, the better the chances that the treatment will be successful, ”he explained.
Women are reporting that they feel more comfortable scheduling doctor appointments now that COVID-19 vaccines are readily available.
74 percent of women say they feel more comfortable seeing their healthcare providers now than before the vaccine was launched.
65 percent of women say they plan to prioritize scheduling breast and cervical exams before early 2022.
58 percent of women ages 21 to 39 who postponed, canceled or did not show up for their cervical or breast exams during the pandemic say they plan to reschedule their appointments before the new year.
That percentage increases to 61 percent in women ages 40 to 60.
While the pandemic had an impact on women’s preventive health routines, it was not the only reason cancer screenings were canceled or postponed.
Nearly a quarter of women (24 percent) ages 40 to 60 say it has been more than 36 months since their last appointment with their OB / GYN or primary care provider.
About 40 percent of the women reported being concerned about feeling pain or discomfort and feelings of awkwardness during a routine breast or cervical cancer exam.
Survey results suggest an information gap that prevents women from receiving life-saving preventive health care.
Half of women don’t know how often they should be screened for cervical and breast cancer.
The numbers are most puzzling for younger women and women of color.
Half of the women in the United States ages 21 to 60 do not know how often they should get screened for cervical cancer.
Looking at the phenomenon by age and race, the figures show a more detailed picture.
62 percent of women ages 21-24 say they don’t know how often they should get cervical cancer screening.
55 percent of women ages 21 to 39 say they don’t know how often they should be screened for cervical cancer.
Forty-two percent of women ages 40 to 60 say they don’t know how often to get cervical cancer screening.
53 percent of white women say they know how often they should be screened for cervical cancer, while the numbers are reversed for women of color, with 53 percent of women of color, 53 percent of Latina women and 57 percent of Asian women who say they do not know how often they should be screened for cervical cancer.
42 percent of women say they don’t know how often they should get screened for breast cancer.
Again, the numbers are higher for younger women and women of color.
54 percent of women ages 21 to 39 and 26 percent of women ages 40 to 60 say they don’t know how often they should be screened for breast cancer.
47 percent of black women, 47 percent of Latino women, 54 percent of Asian women, and 37 percent of white women report not knowing how often they should be screened for breast cancer. mother.
43 percent of women consider their OB / GYN as their primary care provider. This increases to more than one in two women, or 51 percent, among women ages 21 to 39.
OB / GYNs are in a unique position to help women understand the importance of routine cancer screenings, but the survey found that information about preventive care should reach beyond the walls of hospitals. medical consultants.
Nearly one in five (19 percent) of women say they have not received information anywhere from any source about specific health and cancer screenings for women.
About one in six (17 percent) of women ages 40 to 60 say they have not received information regarding specific health and cancer screenings for women.
More than one in six (18 percent) of women ages 21-24 say they have received information from social media about specific health and cancer screenings for women.
The survey results also suggest that women could better use their connections to each other to promote their health care activity: 61 percent of women say they do not remind friends, family and loved ones to get screened for cancer routine.