Leading Cancer Organizations Warn Cancer Doesn’t Stop for COVID-19 and Neither Should You

In In The News by Barbara Jacoby

National Comprehensive Cancer Network and American Cancer Society are leading nationwide effort to resume appropriate cancer screening and treatment to prevent excess deaths.

The National  Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) and the American Cancer Society (ACS) are teaming  up with leading cancer organizations across the country to endorse the resumption of cancer  screening and treatment during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.

The coalition of 76 organizations today released an open letter reminding the public that cancer still poses a major threat to people’s health, but acting as soon as is safely possible can lead to much better outcomes in the future. The letter examines distressing trends showing a significant  drop-off in recommended cancer screening and treatment compared to prior years. This concerning side-effect of the pandemic could lead to a staggering number of preventable cancer  deaths over the next ten years and beyond. Oncology experts agree that people should not delay  any necessary prevention or care.

“When cancer is caught earlier, it is typically easier to treat because there are more options  available,” said Robert W. Carlson, MD, CEO, NCCN. “When the pandemic first hit the United  States, a short delay in care was an appropriate choice for many cancer types. However, the  balance of risk has shifted significantly. We now have two impressive vaccines that are being  distributed around the world. We also know much more about how to treat and prevent COVID 19. Cancer centers are taking multiple measures to protect patients and staff from COVID-19 and  transmission within cancer centers is quite unusual. Meanwhile, far too many cancers are being  left to grow unchecked. Postponing cancer care will add tragedy on top of tragedy.”

“It is of the utmost importance that critical cancer screenings resume as soon as safely possible,”  said William G. Cance, MD, Chief Medical and Scientific Officer of the American Cancer  Society. “Over the past decade we have seen overall cancer mortality rates drop dramatically.  This decline is in large part due to screening’s ability to catch cancers before they spread—when  the chances of good outcomes are most likely. We have come too far in our fight against cancer  to allow long breaks in vital screening to slow down our progress in saving lives.”

Hospitals and medical systems across the country have already begun vaccinating health care  providers among other measures to ensure a safe environment for people receiving cancer screening and treatment. The confirmed use of evidence-based precautions against COVID-19  should provide reassurance against fears of infection during necessary medical care.

The letter points out that researchers around the world have made tremendous strides in  controlling cancer in recent years. Leading oncology experts are now asking everyone, in  coordination with their health care provider, to resume preventive and prescribed care and  contact their doctor right away about any new symptoms or concerns.

Visit NCCN.org/resume-screening or acs4ccc.org/ReengageLetter to read the entire letter. For  general guidance and information about cancer, visit NCCN.org or Cancer.org.

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About the National Comprehensive Cancer Network 

The National Comprehensive Cancer Network® (NCCN®) is a not-for-profit alliance of leading  cancer centers devoted to patient care, research, and education. NCCN is dedicated to  improving and facilitating quality, effective, efficient, and accessible cancer care so patients can  live better lives. Visit NCCN.org for more information on the NCCN Clinical Practice Guidelines in  Oncology (NCCN Guidelines®) and other initiatives. Follow NCCN on Facebook @NCCNorg,  Instagram @NCCNorg and Twitter @NCCN.

About the American Cancer Society 

The American Cancer Society is a global grassroots force of 1.5 million volunteers dedicated to  saving lives, celebrating lives, and leading the fight for a world without cancer. From breakthrough  research, to free lodging near treatment, a 24/7/365 live helpline, free rides to treatment, and  convening powerful activists to create awareness and impact, the Society is the only organization  attacking cancer from every angle. For more information go to www.cancer.org.