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The Making of Medicine

How Much Has COVID-19 Hurt Cancer Care in the U.S.?

Our Cancer Center is teaming up with 16 other cancer centers around the country to address the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on cancer detection, care and prevention.

The cancer centers are partnering with the National Cancer Institute because of fears that the pandemic has caused patients to delay screenings and affected their ability to access care and necessary procedures. Officials worry that the pandemic could wipe out years of progress in reducing cancer deaths.

“By joining 16 other cancer centers, we will have important local and national information that will help us develop and implement effective strategies to mitigate the impact of COVID on cancer prevention, detection and care in our communities,” said Wendy Cohn, PhD, associate director for community outreach and engagement at UVA Cancer Center.

The participating centers will conduct assessments with healthy volunteers and cancer survivors to understand how the pandemic has affected their work and employment, their home life, their emotional well-being, their health, their social activities and their COVID-19 prevention efforts. The researchers are particularly interested in evaluating the effects on populations that were already medically underserved prior to the pandemic. COVID-19, they fear, may have worsened these patients’ unmet health needs.

“We know that the pandemic has changed our preventive behaviors, such as diet and exercise. We know there have been delays in cancer screening. This survey will give us a more detailed understanding of the extent of the problem so that the UVA Cancer Center’s Office of Community Outreach and Engagement can provide programs and support to address the needs of our community,” Cohn said. “Ultimately, we hope to develop strategies to lessen the impact of this pandemic on cancer prevention, detection and care.”

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