When “Good News” Can Be Deceiving

Jan 28 3:53pm | Lonnie Fynskov | @lonniefynskov


Sometimes I hear or read health information and think, “wow! That sounds great” only to find out that it might not actually be so wonderful. The following is an example of that situation. According to a letter recently published by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network, the American Cancer Society, Mayo Clinic and over 70 other leading cancer organizations, “the number of people newly diagnosed with cancer has decreased significantly in the United States (U.S) as well as in other countries across the globe during the COVID-19 pandemic.” My initial reaction was “finally, some good news!” However, the letter then goes on to explain that this doesn’t mean the occurrence of cancer is decreasing, only that it is not being diagnosed. In other words, more of us have been waiting with screening and consequently the cancers are being found at later stages.

Regular cancer screening is one of the best tools we have for identifying cancers in the earlier stages.  Mayo Clinic has taken numerous steps to provide the safest possible environment for your screening tests because cancer doesn't stop with a pandemic.  As I mentioned in another post, early stage diagnosis typically means we have more options for less aggressive treatment. The first step we need to take is to be aware of the cancer screening recommendations. Different organizations may recommend small variations in these guidelines so it is important to discuss them with your healthcare provider. Also life is busy and the pandemic may have added even more tasks to our daily agendas. How do we keep track of when our screenings are due? Many healthcare institutions may remind patients but it is important to take responsibility for our own healthcare screenings. As a Mayo Clinic patient, you can access information regarding your last screening tests and when they are next due through your patient portal. Get in the habit of checking which tests you need for the upcoming year. A New Year’s Day activity, perhaps? Are there other methods that have been helpful for you?

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