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Routine cancer screenings have plummeted during the pandemic

Massey breast cancer.PNG
Posted at 7:56 PM, Aug 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-09 10:25:22-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Since the start of the pandemic, less and less people have been returning for their annual cancer screenings.

“I think it’s very important to go ahead and go because you never know," shares Margaret Lyons.

The San Diego resident is 58-years-old and since the age of 40 she has received a yearly screening.

“I do have family history and I also have personal history," expresses Lyons, "I had breast cancer almost 10 years ago.”

For Lyons, her screenings made all the difference, as she said, "They found my cancer in one of my yearly mammograms.”

Lindsey Tabaian’s husband also has a family history.

"My husband did his screening for colon cancer at age 40 and they found things that would have become cancer. So it was a huge relief to us that he had done that and a decade or two earlier they would have screened at 50, and he would have been in the same position his dad was were they found it and they found a tumor,” said Tabaian.

According to the CDC, the total number of cancer screenings received by their early detection program declined by 87% for breast cancer and 84% percent for cervical cancer since April of 2020.

The National Cancer Institute says in University of Cincinnati’s Cancer Center, in just one month, more than 800 appointments for lung cancer screenings were canceled.

Tabaian lost her grandmother to reproductive cancer this year. She says it is something she believes could have been avoided.

"My grandmother’s reproductive cancer, if she had been braver about going to the doctor we wouldn’t have lost her," says Tabaian, "it would not have been stage 4 when she found it and the same with Ryan’s [her husband] grandpa. So I feel like it is just life or death to be aware of your family history and be screening for it.”

The importance of wellness exams was shown this weekend. On Aug. 6, Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez announced on Twitter that she found out she was diagnosed with stage 0 breast cancer.

She said in her tweet that she found out because of mammograms, which she began to receive early on.

Her husband, San Diego County Board of Supervisors Chair Nathan Fletcher, said Gonzalez knew her family’s history. In a tweet, he shared that Gonzalez's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer at age 44 and died at age 62.

Delays in going to get checked, is what survivors like Lyons urge against.

"Un-vaccinated or vaccinated, I think it’s worth the risk to get your screenings done because cancer is not fun. Radiation is not fun. Chemo is not fun," Lyons says.