Despite colorectal cancer screening’s ability to detect cancer early, screening rates remain low at below 60% [1]. The COVID-19 pandemic caused further disruptions to colorectal cancer screening participation as many health care centers limited in-person and preventive care services to combat the pandemic and avoid exposing people seeking non-emergency medical care to the virus. By mid-April 2020, the number of colonoscopies performed dropped by almost 90% compared to 2019 [2]. Although a slight rebound in preventive screenings has since occurred, the overall decline in colonoscopies from 2019 to 2020 was about 25% [3].

Finding a way to rebound screening rates is crucial as prolonged screening delays can lead to delayed diagnoses and poor health consequences. Fortunately, LetsGetChecked’s at-home Colon Cancer Screening Test can help healthcare providers compensate for decreased screening participation to close gaps in care and positively impact patient outcomes.


The importance of preventive cancer screenings


Although colorectal cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer when caught early, it causes over an estimated 50,000 deaths in the United States each year [4]. Increasing access to preventive colorectal cancer screenings is crucial for early detection. When colorectal cancer is detected and treated at stage I or II when it is localized, the 5-year relative survival rate is 91% compared to 14% when detected at the latest stages [5].

The full impact of the pandemic on colorectal cancer outcomes may not be known for years, but experts warn that the large drop in early cancer diagnosis and treatment could ultimately result in almost 10,000 excess deaths from breast and colon cancer over the next decade [6]. While postponing preventive screenings may have protected people from the coronavirus, these measures may have had a significant impact on the diagnosis of colon cancer, including diagnosis at advanced stages or later stages, delayed onset of treatment, decreased quality of life, and increased mortality.


An at-home alternative to on-site colorectal cancer screenings


Although there has been a slight rebound in colorectal cancer screenings since vaccination rates have increased, it has not occurred without challenges. Many medical facilities have reported a backlog of patients who still need to reschedule their colon cancer screenings. Healthcare providers must look for ways to broaden screening strategies to accommodate member needs and increase screening engagement. Fortunately, at-home screening tests are a convenient and effective solution to overcome the barriers to engagement associated with traditional on-site screenings. Instead of having to schedule and wait weeks to months for an appointment, at-home screenings allow patients to take the recommended test easily and conveniently from the comfort of their homes. These at-home test kits can help compensate for the decline of screenings and increase the capacity of screening services during the pandemic.

Only about half of Americans who should begin regular colorectal cancer screenings receive the recommended screenings beginning at age 45. At-home colorectal cancer screening tests can help increase screening rates by meeting patients where they are. Patients can safely and easily perform their tests with little to no preparation. A recent meta-analysis found an association between at-home fecal blood tests and increased screening rates [7]. At-home screenings allow members to receive the quality preventive care they need, while also protecting them from exposure to the coronavirus.


Increase screening access with LetsGetChecked’s at-home Colon Cancer Screening Test


After the changes brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is crucial to explore new ways to improve screenings and increase access to quality preventive care. LetsGetChecked’s at-home testing solutions can elevate your screening strategy during the current pandemic and beyond. Our Colon Cancer Screening Test can help patients detect precancerous or cancerous colon growths early when they might be the most treatable and before symptoms are present.

We can deliver the test kits directly to patients’ homes, removing traditional barriers to engagement such as time, location, and transportation. Patients can easily collect their samples before mailing them to our CLIA approved and CAP-accredited laboratory. LetsGetChecked has partnered with some of the top healthcare providers in the country to improve access to quality healthcare, drive higher engagement, and produce better health outcomes. Contact us today to learn more about our solutions or sign up for our monthly newsletter to get curated insights from our team of experts, event invitations, and industry news you can use.


References


  1. https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/just-do-it-yourself-at-home-colorectal-cancer-screening-201903121826
  2. https://www.cancertherapyadvisor.com/home/cancer-topics/gastrointestinal-cancers/colorectal-cancer-covid19-pandemic-experts-review-screening/
  3. https://healthcostinstitute.org/hcci-research/the-impact-of-covid-19-on-the-use-of-preventive-health-care#:~:text=Colonoscopies%2C down almost 90%25 at,by almost 25%25 from 2019.
  4. https://www.cancer.net/cancer-types/colorectal-cancer/statistics
  5. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/colon-rectal-cancer/detection-diagnosis-staging/survival-rates.html
  6. https://abcnews.go.com/Health/wireStory/researchers-study-impact-pandemic-cancer-screening-pause-76481558
  7. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30326005/