Doctors seeing delayed diagnoses, warning people to get health check-ups

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) – As emergency rooms and ICU’s filled up with patients at the start of the virus, fears of the coronavirus left doctors office’s quiet.

Many people postponed routine check-ups, and now doctors are finding that’s leading to missed and delayed diagnoses.

“In those months there was a significant drop in volume,” Raymond Powrie, Executive Chief of Medicine at Care New England Health System said. “In particular, what we saw was a very significant drop in routine screening testing, things like blood work, mammograms, and cancer screenings.”

Dr. Powrie says across the nation and right here at home, doctors are seeing the effects of cancelled or delayed appointments, especially cancer screenings.

“There are reports among most oncologists that patients they’re seeing that would’ve come in a few months ago and are coming in now, it looks like the disease is advanced and it might’ve been less advanced,” Dr. Powrie said. “There’s no way to know for sure, but it makes sense.”

According to the American Cancer Society, just this year alone, 5,930 Rhode Islanders were diagnosed with some type of cancer. Of those, 2,120 didn’t make it.

That number is almost double the number of deaths statewide from COVID-19.

Dr. Powrie says he’s concerned those numbers, while alarming, still don’t reflect what’s actually out there.

“Although many people are returning to get testing, there are people who didn’t get it done during the first surge and who have not returned yet,” Dr. Powrie said. “We want to give a strong message that people should seek out healthcare right now.”

Dr. Powrie says hospitals and doctors offices are some of the safest places to be. They have extensive precautions in place, wear PPE and screen patients several times.

“Early intervention and treatment really does save lives,” Dr. Powrie said. “It’s been one of the miracles of the last couple decades. It’s really important that we not neglect the rest of our health while being concerned about the COVID pandemic.”

October is also breast cancer awareness month, so Dr. Powrie says it’s just another reminder to get those screenings in and check in on your health.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Providence, Rhode Island