COLORADO SPRINGS — It's already October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and The National Cancer Institute says they are projecting 10,000 people in the U.S. will die from breast and colon cancer due to COVID-19 over the next decade because of delays in screenings and treatment.
In an interview with Newsy, the National Cancer Institute says even though cancer diagnoses have dropped by 50%, actual cancer rates have not declined, stressing the importance of intervention. Some clinics in the U.S. have seen a 95% decline in mammography, which is the most common way of screening for breast cancer.
"For a disease like breast cancer, that's really important," explained Dr. Ned Sharpless, director of the National Cancer Institute. "Stage is the major determinant of outcome in breast cancer."
Organizations like SHARE, a national nonprofit that works to support and educate women affected by breast, ovarian and other cancers, have had to pivot during this pandemic.
"Our calls are lasting twice as long as they used to in the past because women have so many things that are happening at the same time," said Carol Evans, CEO of SHARE. "I mean imagine a person who is in the middle of COVID getting a brand new diagnosis of breast cancer?"
Experts also say medically under-served populations are going to be bearing the brunt of this. The CDC sites a disparity in women of color getting treatment.
As National Breast Cancer Awareness month gets underway, SHARE says it is critical women check themselves for potential symptoms at home and communicate with their doctors, even if they can't get in right away.