ODESSA, Texas (NEXSTAR) — According to a recent study, the COVID-19 pandemic is causing a delay for tens of thousands of needed cancer screenings.
“Delaying could be a matter of life and death,” said local doctor Bonnie Carter.
The National Cancer Institute estimates that cancer screening delays just over this past year could account for 10,000 deaths in the next ten years from breast and colon cancers alone.
“A lot of people see that as something they can put off or delay and avoid, and we are seeing more cancers that are advanced at time of diagnosis, and I think we’re going to see more of that as we move along and move away from COVID.” said Dr. Carter.
Doctors are continuing to stress the importance of early detection, and said thousands of people missed their annual checkups due to fear of the virus.
“The biggest thing is people were scared to go to the doctors office, the hospital, to go to clinics, to go to gi clinics, because they were afraid they were going to get COVID.” said Dr. Carter.
Several cancer survivors gather to share their stories at the Hope House in midland.
Local woman Gloria Jones has been a survivor of breast cancer for just over a year now.
“Because of that mammogram catching it, that was the only reason we knew I had it. It was too deep for me to feel it with my own hands, so the machine caught it. So I do encourage ladies if you haven’t had a mammogram, please get it. Because you never know.” said Jones.
Those who have experienced the disease firsthand encourage everyone to get caught up on any missed screenings as soon as possible.
“The earlier the diagnosis, the better the chance for survival,” said Dr. Carter.
“I say go and get it done, don’t wait too late because it might have metastasized by that point not knowingly.” said Jones.
People are encouraged to have cancer check ups at least once a year.