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New study: COVID-19 impacts rate of cancer diagnoses

A new study found a sharp drop in newly identified cases of cancer because so many people are putting off important screenings and procedures due to the pandemic

ATLANTA — Cancer doesn't stop for a pandemic.                   

That's the message behind a new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

A new study found a sharp drop in newly identified cases of cancer because so many people are putting off important screenings and procedures due to the pandemic.            

Coronavirus has seriously impacted many who have contracted the virus, but now concerns are being raised about its impact on other health issues.

The study found a significant decline in newly identified patients with six of the most common cancers: breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric and esophageal.

It found a 46.4 percent plunge in diagnoses across all six cancers compared to cases before the pandemic.

Earlier this year, the American Society of Clinical Oncology recommended screenings that require in-person visits, like mammograms and colonoscopies, be postponed to conserve resources and reduce patient exposure.

But researchers are now concerned that will lead to later diagnoses when the cancer is more advanced, leading to complications and worse outcomes.

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The study referenced previous research warning of a potential increase of 33,890 possibly preventable cancer deaths in the United States.

This trend has been found in other countries as well.

The Netherlands Cancer Registry saw a 40 percent decline in weekly cancer incidences, and the United Kingdom saw a 75 percent decline in referrals for suspected cancer cases since its COVID-19 restrictions were put in place.

So what should you do?

The American Cancer Society says to speak with your healthcare provider about your personal history to weigh the risks and benefits of a screening.

The organization also notes screenings are different from tests, and symptoms of cancer warrant consultation with a doctor about what to do.

11Alive is focusing our news coverage on the facts and not the fear around the virus.  We want to keep you informed about the latest developments while ensuring that we deliver confirmed, factual information.

We will track the most important coronavirus elements relating to Georgia on this page. Refresh often for new information.

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