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Mission Hope Cancer Center: Doctors project effects of pandemic on cancer diagnosis

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - Doctors in Santa Maria are worried women with breast cancer aren't getting screened soon enough.

"We are seeing patients come in with metastatic cancer ... which is really sad
because had they come in a year ago or 18 months ago ... it’s possible we
could’ve caught this before it spread," said breast surgical oncologist Dr. Colleen O'Kelly Priddy.

Mission Hope Cancer Center says a lot of the issues stemmed from people putting off screenings during the start of the pandemic.

But that's starting to change.

" … with our COVID numbers starting to drop patients have started to come in
for cancer screenings. And breast cancer is very curable," said O'Kelly.

Doctors say many patients now coming in for a screening waited too long.

" … they just sort of let the rest of the year go or figured they
would wait until the pandemic had calm down before they came back and that
his lead to an increase in the number of advanced cancers that were seeing
because things did get missed," said O'Kelly.

As  Breast Cancer Awareness month continues, doctors hope people will
come in for all cancer screenings before it’s too late.

" … we are very cautious we have a lot of safety things in place and so we
want patients to feel free to come in and come for the cancer screenings," said senior director of oncology services Katherine Guthrie at Mission Hope Cancer Center.

Surgical oncologists are projecting they will be seeing the affects of the pandemic on breast cancer diagnosis for years to come.

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Patricia Martellotti

Patricia Martellotti is a reporter for NewsChannel 3-12. To learn more about Patricia, click here.


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