COVID-19 Dramatically drops Cancer Screening levels

Astin Ramos, Photo Editor

Diverse communities across Kansas are not only facing a higher risk of COVID-19 but also undiagnosed cancer due to a lack of access to medical resources.

“That is it of itself is going to be a healthcare crisis coming down the road in a few years,” said Director of Outreach at the Masonic Cancer Alliance at the University of Kansas Cancer Center Brooke Groneman.

Cancer screenings are free events that provide medical experts and educational information for communities in Wyandotte County who might have less access to medical care. In the years leading up to March 2020, the cancer screening levels have stayed continuously steady. However, once COVID-19 hit the rates have dramatically dropped over 90%. This is alarming news for medical professionals because without early detection the outcomes of a cancer diagnosis can be much more devastating.

“I am very worried that the rate of late-stage cancers is going up,” said cancer educator Michelle Springer.

In communities with disparities that already exist, COVID-19 has magnified the unequal access to health care. At some of these cancer screening clinics, Spanish interpreters are utilized to assist the screening participants who do not speak English.

“We bring interpreters when needed so that we can communicate with different participants and try to be open and welcoming to everyone,” said Outreach Coordinator for the Masonic Cancer Alliance Ashley Adorante.

There has been a strict protocol and guidelines followed by the screening team to keep the community and staff safe. According to Adorante, all participants are required to be masked and have their temperature taken along with using hand sanitizer before entering the screening area.

The more awareness brought to cancer screenings increases the likelihood of catching cancer in an earlier stage and can save a life.

“You want to find anything that you have wrong early, start care as soon as you can because the longer you wait the harder that it is going to be to treat the problems that you have,” Adorante said.