Health officials urge a return to routine checkups, cancer screenings

Preventative health screenings dropped during the COVID-19 pandemic, but medical officials urge you to get back into the habit.

"Cancer is not going away and will not wait for a pandemic to pass," reads a notice from Public Health – Seattle & King County.

When the pandemic was at its height, routine preventative care procedures like breast, cervical and colon cancer screenings dramatically decreased, with the focus put on urgent care and reducing COVID spread in hospitals.

Public Health said as of March 22, 92.6% of people in King County ages five and up have at least one dose of the COVID vaccine, and half are fully vaccinated.

Officials say now is the time to resume those routine screenings, to help save lives.

Screenings aim to detect diseases in their early stages, such as cancer, which gives patients a much better chance in beating it. Putting off these screenings risks not detecting a disease until it reaches an advanced stage, when it is more difficult to treat.

The National Cancer Institute anticipates an excess of 10,000 deaths from breast and colorectal cancer in the next 10 years because of missed checkups and a drop in diagnoses.

For King County residents who are low-income, uninsured or facing deductibles, you may be eligible for free cancer screenings in Public Health’s Brest, Cervical and Colon Health program. For more information, call their referral line at 1-800-756-5437.

It is recommended anyone age 45 and up get a colon cancer screening, 40 and up a breast cancer screening, and 21 and up cervical cancer screening.

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