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Why a decrease in cancer diagnoses is concerning doctors

Why a decrease in cancer diagnoses is concerning doctors
Posted at 6:29 PM, Dec 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-07 18:29:41-05

RICHMOND, Va. -- New data released on Tuesday by United Healthcare (UHC) show Virginians and their healthcare are challenged beyond the coronavirus.

The professionals at the Richmond-Henrico Health Districts (RHHD) focus on so much more than the impacts of the pandemic we are living through.

“We know chronic disease and STIs don’t disappear during the time of a pandemic,” said RHHD spokesperson Cat Long. “We really developed two workforces of our COVID-19 employees and our traditional health employees to make sure no one falls through the cracks.”

Dr. Arethusa Kirk serves as UHC’s Chief Medical Officer. Her data showed cancer diagnoses decreased by about seven percent across the county. However, that’s anything but good news.

“We certainly know it’s correlated that people did not get as many screenings as they did last year,” she explained.

Dr. Kirk warned against delaying healthcare like cancer screenings.

“When people are ultimately getting a diagnosis, they may be way later in their stages of cancer and have advanced disease,” Kirk stated.

In Virginia, Long said they’ve seen an increase of cases of sexually transmitted infections as of late. Cases of chlamydia increased in the Commonwealth by 11% from 2018 through 2019.

“We’ve seen some increases in our STI rates in the community because folks didn’t have readily accessible STI testing to make sure they had an opportunity to know their status,” Long said.

Virginia did succeed in reducing food insecurity for some families. There was also an 8% increase in mental health providers across the state last year.

But these experts realize much more work needs to be done to get back on track for everyone’s preventative healthcare during this pandemic.