Patients urged to reschedule canceled cancer screening appointments

Patients urged to reschedule canceled cancer screening appointments

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Physicians at the WVU Cancer Institute are encouraging patients to not postpone important cancer screening appointments.

According to Michael Cowher, M.D., WVU Cancer Institute breast surgical oncologist, patients shouldn’t delay rescheduling appointments that were postponed due to the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“At the start of the pandemic, we had to postpone a lot of appointments in order to limit possible exposure to the virus and conserve resources in case of a surge,” Dr. Cowher said. “Now that we have reopened both screening and therapeutic services and stabilized supply chains, we are encouraging those who’ve had to postpone cancer screening tests to reschedule new appointments.”

WVU Medicine patient visit data shows a more than 90 percent reduction in mammogram appointments in April as compared to the number of visits in 2019. While there has been a subsequent increase in mammograms in the months since screening services reopened, the data does not indicate that these additional mammograms have compensated for all earlier cancellations. Other services, including Obstetrics and Gynecology, report similar trends.

“These screenings are important because they can help us detect disease early when it is most treatable. Our numbers show that many of the patients who had to postpone their screening exams have since rescheduled, but not all,” Cowher said. “It’s reasonable to postpone these appointments for one or two months if you don’t have any symptoms or history of cancer, but you shouldn’t put them off for an entire year or longer. Early detection saves lives and screening tests, such as mammograms, are the best way to detect cancer at its most treatable stage.”

All WVU Medicine clinics are taking measures to ensure patient safety, including requiring masks, asking patients to wait in their cars until their provider is available, screening for COVID-19 symptoms, and increased patient room cleaning procedures.

Patients wishing to schedule appointments can call 855-WVU-CARE or visit WVUMedicine.org.

For more information: Heather Bonecutter, Communications Specialist, 304-285-7256