One of the problems caused by the COVID-19 pandemic has been the shifting of attention and resources away from other serious illnesses. Among the repercussions of an overwhelmed U.S. healthcare system has been a surge in advanced cancer cases, particularly for female patients.

At the start of the pandemic last year, Americans cut down on the number of doctor visits that they were taking for fear of contracting COVID-19. This has resulted in a lower number of cancer screenings that raised the chances of potential cancer victims being undiagnosed for a longer period of time and reducing the chances to treat it.

In 2020, the American Society of Clinical Oncology found that nearly 64% of Americans delayed or skipped scheduled cancer screenings, such as mammograms, for fear of COVID-19. More recently, a June study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that the number of cancer screenings for women declined by 87% for breast cancer and 84% for cervical cancer during April 2020, as compared with the previous 5-year averages for that month.

The impact of this decline in cancer screenings is likely to be felt especially acutely among women of color. The CDC study found that the number of breast cancer screenings dropped by 84% for Hispanics and a staggering 98% for Native Americans. For cervical cancer, the CDC said that screenings fell 82% among Black women and 92% for women who are Asian Pacific Islanders.

While the danger of COVID-19 has still not abated, medical professionals say that it is important to still make it for women to make it for their regular tests for breast and cervical cancer.

The CDC advises that healthcare providers continue to conduct routine cancer screenings to the best of their ability.

Other healthcare professionals say the same rules from the pre-pandemic still apply namely to not skip or otherwise delay appointments for screenings because early detection is among the best defenses from the most serious cases of cancer.