LUBBOCK, Texas (KCBD) - Even before the pandemic, Dr. Rakhshanda L. Rahman said getting people to screen for cancers was a concern. Now, a significant drop in the rate of screening has presented a possible deadly effect.
“If you look nationwide, there has been 40 percent reduction in screenings, which is very, very significant,” Dr. Rahman, UMC Cancer Center Medical Director, said. “The projection is that will translate into a significant increase in death rates with cancers over the next decade.”
Dr. Rahman tells KCBD it’s not just the pandemic that halted screenings. She said people are often complacent and don’t get screened to find cancers early.
“When you have so many things going on in life and you’re feeling fine, people don’t give enough importance to screening to begin with,” Dr. Rahman said.
The pandemic putting a stop to some hospital and clinical procedures also created a challenge for those who were scheduled or expecting to be screened.
“Now we are back on full throttle but we are playing catch up,” Dr. Rahman said. “We’ve seen a handful of patients, already, with cancers that are kind of advanced cancers, because their screening was due in March and didn’t happen, because it was due in February and didn’t happen.”
Plus, Dr. Rahman said some patients who had just been diagnosed have also been afraid to come to the hospital, resulting in some deaths.
“I think that one of our challenges is to balance that fear of pandemic versus fear of not seeking care for diseases you do have, while you’re worrying about disease that you may or may not have,” Dr. Rahman said.
So, now is the time to get screened, not only for your own health but others.
“I always use the airplane mask analogy that you can take care of others if you are well,” Dr. Rahman said. “You have to wear your mask first before helping other people out, because once you are sick, and if the cancer is advanced, then all these things that are a priority in your life, you’re not able to deliver on that because of the illness, which is advanced. So, I think that the more people understand that, the better that take care of themselves.”
The UMC Cancer Center is hosting its second Stick & Treat event on Saturday, October 24. Registered nurses will provide education about cervical cancer, breast cancer, lung cancer and smoking cessation and colon cancer.
The Lubbock Health Department will also join forces with UMC to provide on-site and free mammograms, cervical cancer screenings and HPV vaccinations.
“It was very popular last year,” Dr. Rahman said. “I was a little worried if we’re going to be able to hold it this year. But, we contacted the Mayor and followed the guidelines and policies that were put forth by them and we were approved for it.”
The event is 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. outdoors between UMC’s Medical Office Plaza I and II, which is at 9th and Joliet Avenue. You must wear a mask.
For other information on screenings and cancer care at the Cancer Center, click here.