You may have skipped lung, colon, breast cancer screenings amid COVID. Time to fix that.

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Far too many of my ER patients of late are being diagnosed with cancer or progression of their tumors. These patients are suffering collateral damage from the pandemic.

At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, we saw a drastic decline in the number of patients with non-COVID medical emergencies. A CDC study found that overall ER visits declined 42% from March to April 2020 compared to the same time in 2019. Even more concerning, a survey of nine major hospitals in April 2020 showed that the number of severe heart attacks treated in hospitals dropped nearly 40% over the course of one month. Patients were avoiding or delaying care in the ER out of fear of “catching COVID.”

Daily COVID cases in the U.S. from the BA.5 wave are slowly declining. As are emergency room visits and hospitalizations for severe COVID-19 illness. The CDC’s new guidance for minimizing the impact of COVID-19 reflects a push to move on from the emergency phase of the pandemic. Patient volumes in the emergency room have returned to and exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

More:The dos and don’ts of going to the ER

Unfortunately, far too many of my emergency room patients of late are being diagnosed with cancer or progression of their tumors. These patients are suffering collateral damage from the pandemic; they are upwards of two years behind in their critical disease screening appointments or have been unable to follow up as their primary care doctor offices face a daunting scheduling backlog.



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