Boca Raton, FL – A new report shows that the U.S. cancer death rate
has fallen by the largest yearly amount on record. It’s the second
year in a row that the death rate has dropped. Doctors attribute the lower
rates to better treatments and screenings. But this year,
doctors are concerned that missed cancer screenings because of the pandemic
will result in some cancers being discovered at a later stage, possibly
increasing the cancer death rate over previous years.
Dr. Thomas Morrissey, Director of Gynecologic Oncology at the Eugene M.
& Christine E. Lynn Cancer Institute of Baptist Health South Florida
in Boca Raton, says, “Unfortunately, COVID has caused a lot of indirect
problems which we are just now beginning to see the magnitude. Data is
emerging from healthcare systems in California which have shown a significant
decrease in the amount of patients going for Pap smears and HPV tests
over the last year, and this pattern of delaying routine screening will
probably extend to multiple other disease sites like colon and breast
as well. It is difficult to say exactly what the impact will be, but hopefully
with the distribution of the vaccine, we will be able to vaccinate everyone
and hopefully return to our normal schedules and catch up on any missed
screening tests. “
If caught early, many forms of cancer are highly survivable. According to the American Society of Clinical Oncology, cervical cancer
has a 92% survival rate if caught early. The 5-year survival rate for
breast cancer that is detected early and in the localized stage is about 99%.
Dr. Morrissey and Baptist Health South Florida are working in partnership
with the Promise Fund of Florida to make sure all women have access to
these vital screenings. The non-profit organization seeks to eliminate
barriers to quality healthcare and reduce and prevent the progression
of breast and cervical cancer, especially for the estimated 80,000 uninsured
women in our local communities.
Dr. Morrissey says these partnerships are critical to helping more people
survive cancer, “Both as a partner in patient education and the
invaluable help of a navigator to assist a patient to go in the right
direction and help make sure there is adequate follow-up.”