New data shows a staggering 90-percent of cancer screenings were canceled this year because of COVID-19 stay at home orders. Hundreds of thousands of Americans missed the tests that can detect cancers of the colon, breast, cervix, and more, often before the patient even has any symptoms.
Over time, cancer grows and can spread throughout the body. That's why early detection and treatment improve the patient's chance of survival.
Karen Tripp, the president of Cancer Companions, a Christian ministry that trains volunteers in churches nationwide how to help cancer patients grow closer to Christ, told CBNNews that missed or delayed screenings could prove catastrophic.
"That ends up delaying their opportunity, if they are going to be diagnosed with cancer, to have the benefits of that early detection, and my sense is there will be more severe cancer diagnoses," she predicted.
Now that every state in the country has started lifting COVID restrictions, patients can now get the screenings and other health checkups they missed during the early days of the pandemic. However, ongoing fear is a problem. Some patients worry about catching the virus at the doctor's office or hospital.
Health care facilities are taking steps to minimize that risk by requiring workers and patients to wear masks. Health care workers go a step further by wearing gloves in most cases. Appointments are scheduled in a way that minimizes the number of people in waiting rooms, and patients' temperatures are often checked before being seen.
Nevertheless, some people remain skeptical about the safety of going to health care facilities and continue to delay being screened for cancer. Tripp sees this as a direct threat to health and wouldn't mind pastors addressing it from the pulpit.
"I would love to be able to see churches really stepping up to the plate," she said, "encouraging people to be able to go and get their regular cancer screening done."
She says when the backlog of people who were supposed to be screened for cancer in the first half of this year finally get their tests, she expects an increase in the number of positive cases by the end of this year and into the first part of 2021.
"There's going to be a lot of people that we know in our communities that are going to be coping with cancer that are going to need to see how Christ can help them through that," she said. "When we look at the studies, there's no question that the impact of faith on a person's physical health is enormous."
It's not just cancer screenings. A new Kaiser Family Foundation poll shows nearly half of all Americans report they or a family member skipped or delayed non-COVID medical and dental care because of the pandemic and as a result, one in ten of them say that person's condition worsened.
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