15% hike in Utah colon cancer linked to delayed pandemic screenings 

Murray, Utah-based Intermountain Healthcare physicians are tying a 15 percent increase in colon cancer cases to a 50 percent drop in colon cancer screenings since the beginning of the pandemic, according a March 3 Standard Examiner report.

During a news conference to encourage Utah residents to stop delaying treatment, one Intermountain gastroenterologist, Nathan Merriman, MD, said, "I think it’s just been overwhelming with everything going on with COVID-19. There’s been a lot of postponement of screening, but with the drop in COVID patients, it is safe to come back and, in fact, I’m encouraging it, especially with this month being Colon Cancer Awareness Month."

Dr. Merriman said many people have been hesitant to come in for regular screenings during the pandemic, and some of his patients with rectal bleeding had waited four to nine months before coming to see him. 

"Way too long to wait," he told the Examiner.

Colorectal cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related death in the U.S. in men and women combined, according to the American Cancer Society.


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