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Doctors discuss recent decline in cancer screenings

Newswatch 16's Chris Keating spoke with a doctor about why fewer people are being screened for cancer and why it is important to go for check-ups.

WILLIAMSPORT, Pa. — Doctors at UPMC Williamsport are concerned about cancer screening statistics. 

Since the start of the pandemic, healthcare systems have seen a rapid decline in folks getting screened for cancer.

"From 2019 to 2021, the greatest drop in screening was for cervical cancer from 45 percent to 39 percent," said Dr. Steven Barrows, UPMC Primary Care.

Doctors fear that people have stopped scheduling cancer screenings because of a disruption in routine caused by the pandemic. 

Doctors are now faced with a challenge, "Getting people into the office to be aware of what screening they are due for and then getting them the necessary orders in place so they can follow through with those screening tests," said Dr. Barrows.

Data collected by the American Cancer Society shows that breast, cervical, and prostate cancer screenings all dropped by at least 3 percent nationally between 2019 and 2021.

According to Dr. Steven Barrows, cancer screenings are an essential part of keeping up with your health, especially as you age, "Cancer screening is one of the single best ways to detect early so that treatment is less invasive and more easily tolerated."

Problems could arise if cancer is not detected early.

"Treatments will be more invasive, more challenging for patients to tolerate, and will have less favorable outcomes," added Dr. Barrows.

Folks are advised to speak with their family doctor to set up a cancer screening.

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