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Cancer screenings vital for early detection, treatment

November 04, 2021 | Cancer

A woman holds up a pink breast cancer awareness ribbon.

As we recognize Breast Cancer Awareness Month this October, the statistics show that breast cancer continues to be the most common cancers in women. In fact, one in eight women in the U.S. will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Early detection is key to improved outcomes. Yet, preventive cancer screenings fell dramatically during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In this episode of The Friday Pulse, we talk with two CVS Health clinical leaders to learn about the benefits of early detection and the importance of a return to care.

“You can have cancer and still feel fine,” says Shirisha Reddy, M.D., Medical Director, CVS Health Enterprise Oncology. “I think that’s where cancer screening becomes important.”

Screening tests help detect disease very early, in many cases before symptoms are even felt. The screening tests are simple, fast and save lives, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, breast cancer screenings were down a staggering 85%.

Joanne Armstrong, M.D., MPH, Chief Medical Officer of Women’s Health and Genomics at CVS Health, says regular screening improves the chance of survival and leads to early treatment. It also “identifies abnormalities that, if left unchecked, would progress to cancer.”

Cancer death rates dropped 27% from 1999 to 2019, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Early detection and treatment are part of the reason for that decline.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends regular screenings for the most common cancers, including breast, colon, cervical and lung cancers. Talk to your doctor about your family history, as it could impact the types of screening and the intervals at which you get them for certain types of cancer.