Since the rise of coronavirus and the subsequent pandemic, healthcare providers across the globe have seen a drop in patients attending health screenings. We spoke to Dr Chun Tang, a general practitioner at Pall Mall Medical, a private UK healthcare provider, who told us about the concerning nature of this drop in health screenings.

Dr Tang reports that Pall Mall Medical has seen healthcare screenings, which include bowel cancer checks, cervical smears and mammograms drop by 50% since the start of the pandemic in the UK. This could mean serious ramifications for the UK population. Dr Tang told us:

“If patients miss their FIT test for bowel cancer and have developed symptoms, which they go on to ignore, cancer will spread and the chance of survival will considerably decrease.”

Dr Tang also goes on to explain the reason why so many of us are missing these crucial appointments:

“Poor access to clinics, lack of staff members available to complete routine appointments such as smears, and fears of coming to the clinic due to the risk of Coronavirus are the top reasons for missed appointments.”

Missed GP appointments

More importantly, Dr Tang tells us that GP appointments have dropped by 57% since the UK went into lockdown in March, with the trend not seeming to improve despite the relaxing of lockdown rules.

With many more people ignoring symptoms and choosing not to see their doctor, they become more at risk of developing later stage cancers, putting their prognosis, once they are finally diagnosed, in a worse state.

Dr Tang told us: “People missing checkups could lead to the worst-case scenario of increased rates of cancer diagnoses and missed diagnoses, to name a few. This is of course very worrying.”

What health screenings should I be attending?

Depending on your age, there is a range of different health screenings you should be attending.

In your 20s

  • Regular STI / STD checks
  • Annual smear test appointments

In your 30s

  • Regular health screens to check blood pressure and blood tests
  • Annual smear test appointments

In your 40s

  • Pap tests and pelvic exam: Every 1 to 3 years.
  • Get your moles checked yearly
  • Thyroid check every 5 years
  • Blood glucose every 3 years (starting at age 45)

In your 50s

  • Mammogram
  • Regular blood pressure checks
  • Yearly health screens
  • Yearly blood tests
  • Bowel cancer screening

Keeping your health in check

It is vitally important to see your GP if you’re experiencing any strange or unusual symptoms as well as making sure you attend your regular health screenings. 

Keeping your health check appointment is a vital part of staying fit and healthy. All women over the age of 25 should attend an annual smear and all women over 50 should have regular mammograms to detect early breast cancer. 

Pop your health screening appointments in your diary or on a calendar so you don’t forget and if you feel unwell and cannot attend, be sure to reschedule.