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Doctors 'Concerned' That Pandemic Has Caused People To Miss Routine Cancer Screenings

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- COVID-19 restrictions could be jeopardizing cancer patients. Doctors are worried that people are missing routine screenings and allowing cancer to go undetected and become more advanced.

Mammograms and colonoscopies are routine screenings that find cancer early, when it's most treatable.

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But the coronavirus shutdown has put a hold on those.

"I'm concerned, I'm concerned particularly for our high-risk patients," Director of MD Anderson Cancer Center at Cooper Dr. Generosa Grana said.

She says a delayed cancer diagnosis because of COVID-19 restrictions is potentially dangerous because it can become more advanced and difficult to treat.

"In one study, there was a suggestion that 80,000 cancers may not have been diagnosed because of lack of screening services during the two months of altered care," Dr. Grana said.

Now that restrictions are being lifted, extra precautions are being taken to make sure patients coming for screenings are safe from COVID-19.

"There is a tremendous amount done to keep the environment safe," said Dr. Grana. "We know that our facilities are safe.

For patients already diagnosed, treatments continued through the pandemic.

Christine Dare is being treated for Hodgkin's Lymphoma and an immune system disorder.

"Very concerned. I don't want to be around other people because I really don't want to catch it because I know, most likely, I'll end up in the hospital and that's a very scary thought in my book," Dare said.

Doctors say it's important for people to resume getting their routine cancer screenings now that facilities are reopening, with this reminder.

There are often no symptoms, that is why early detection is so important.

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