Amarillo health experts fear cervical cancer could be on the rise, due to COIVD-19 impact

Updated: Jan. 21, 2021 at 10:24 PM CST
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AMARILLO, Texas (KFDA) - Amarillo healthcare workers are already seeing diagnosis delays in some cancer cases because of COVID-19.

Doctors say cervical caner is treatable and no woman has to die from it.

With women putting off annual doctors visits and exams due to COVID-19, experts worry what the future might look like when it comes to cancer diagnosis.

“It’s a very preventable disease now. So, if you get screening, if you’re open to the concept of the HPV vaccine then we can stop this. No one needs to die of cervical cancer anymore,” said Teresa Baker, M.D. Texas Tech Physicians OBGYN,TTUHSC Breast Center of Excellence.

Preventable, but health officials worry it could be on the rise in Amarillo due to the impact COVID-19 has had on screening availability and visiting the doctors.

“Women have been putting off those yearly screenings, or every three year screenings that normally we would do every year including a well woman’s exam, a mammogram and of course a cervical screening as well,” said Luz Santos, outreach coordinator, TTUHSC Breast Center of Excellence.

Santos use to help women without insurance get examined through a mobile clinic, but since the pandemic, even that has stopped.

“We have seen women coming in that have had a delay in diagnosis because it’s been over a year or whatever since we’ve seen them,” said Dr. Baker.

Health experts agree one way to prevent cervical cancer is through the HPV vaccine.

Even the lack of vaccinating women is proving to be yet another fear of doctors.

“People aren’t able to just go into a walk in clinic anymore, the way we are use to doing,” said Santos.

Santos fears women will push off the HPV vaccine because of COVID-19 but then age out and not be eligible for the vaccine.

“If we’re not getting in during that time frame, then someone ages out, then we’re having a new increase in women of like 27 and older who are no longer able to get vaccinated anymore who don’t have the same protection that the ones that were vaccinated before COVID hit,” said Santos.

While the Texas Tech University Health Sciences mobile clinic is not running, Dr. Baker says there are grants available through Texas Tech to help cover the cost of a breast or cervical exam for those who qualify.

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