Doctors report delay in cancer screenings during COVID-19 pandemic

HOUSTON, Texas (KTRK) -- As we near the end of breast cancer awareness month, doctors are sounding the alarm that they're seeing far too many patients avoiding the doctors office because of the pandemic, and that's delaying vital cancer screenings.

Dr. Dwalah Fisher was diagnosed with an aggressive Stage 2 triple-negative breast cancer last May. The loving wife and mother of two was ready to fight.

"I began treatment with aggressive chemo," Fisher said. "I had surgery and went through radiation."

Dr. Tri Vu, an oncologist with Kelsey Seybold Clinic said Fisher was diagnosed after being screened with a mammogram.

RELATED: Health panel proposes colon cancer tests start at 45, not 50

Vu says the most important thing about Dr. Fisher's case was that it was caught early.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, physicians across the country have seen a heartbreaking trend of patients who are nervous about stepping inside a doctor's office. They're waiting far too long to be diagnosed in time. Doctors say it's not just breast cancer patients but other forms of cancer as well.

EMBED More News Videos

The death of Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman not only shocked the world, but it changed the way we think about colon cancer. He he died at 43, which is well below the age recommended for screenings. However, that could soon change. ABC13's Stefania Okolie explains.



"Now, you're actually seeing later stage like Stage 3 when the breast cancer is larger and gone to multiple lymph nodes, or even stage 4, which is the saddest case," Vu said. "That means we don't cure. We can only treat."

Doctors urge patients that, even though we are in a pandemic, mammograms and other cancer screenings are vital.

"Had I not gotten the screening, we don't know where or what stage I would be in, so I'm grateful for that," Fisher said.

Doctors recommend monthly self-breast exams, but for average risk patients who are 45-years-old and older, yearly mammograms are important.

FROM SEPTEMBER 2020: 'It is heartbreaking': Doctors, non-profit leaders concerned about lack of cancer screenings during COVID-19

If you aren't insured or have a financial hardship, there are options out there for you to get screened.

Follow Samica Knight on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Copyright © 2020 KTRK-TV. All Rights Reserved.