In general, since 2015, last year’s data were available, the United States has not yet met the breast or colonectal cancer screening goals set by the CDC, except for groups with the highest educational level. Lung cancer screenings for people at risk have remained low.
It seems simple, but two of the best ways for doctors to improve cancer screening rates is to advise them to patients and send them frequent reminders.
“It’s an important piece for providers to recognize. It’s really powerful, our ability as providers to talk to patients about cancer screening,” said Dr. Laura Makaroff, senior vice president of prevention and detection. early to the American Cancer Society.
Calling or emailing patients can be helpful. And having records in electronic health records and population management tools can also encourage providers.
Some practices have not seen screening return to pre-pandemic levels, fueling concerns that patients may be diagnosed in later stages when cancer is more difficult to treat.
Projections are still down about 30% compared to pre-pandemic levels in the Orange County Hope City, said President Annette Walker.
The organization uses public service ads, radio, and digital ads to encourage people to return.
“The reason cancer centers are so concerned is that we know that COVID has not prevented cancer. People still get cancer at the same rates,” he said. “We try to get out of there and advocate for people to get your screening done, but it’s still back to normal.”
She said practitioners should consider extending their hours or opening the weekend to increase access for people who cannot enter during the day during the week.
“It may be more useful to look at differently the way we provide our services to some of these communities,” he said.
The CDC also recommends providing travel to and from appointments, offering mobile mammography vans or collection points for stool samples, assisting with child care, providing translation services, and assigning staff to help patients identify and overcome barriers to screening.
The pandemic may have helped change the conversation around accessibility, with eventually more projections going home, experts say.
“One of the things we learned during the pandemic was how to make screening more accessible and more pandemic-proof,” said Phil Castle, director of the Cancer Prevention Division of the National Cancer Institute.
The Food and Drug Administration is working with companies on in-house screening kits for cervical cancer.
“We need to consider other ways to examine people who don’t need a clinic,” Castle said.
For example, one study shows that sending home-based tests for breast cancer to patients helped increase screening by more than 1,000% compared with a control group that received only one text message recall. on planning an in-person screening, according to a study published in February in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.
The researchers sent the tests to late patients to be tested at a community health center that serves primarily people of color.
However, some factors that determine whether patients get cancer screening are beyond the control of a physician.
Lack of primary care physicians and lack of insurance coverage are important barriers to accessing projects, experts say.
“We have a lot more to do on the policy side to build a care system that supports all of these best practices and allows providers to be able to provide the best care at the right time in the right place for all patients. “said American Cancer Society’s Makaroff.