Don’t delay getting your annual physical and routine health screenings.

This includes vaccinations, blood work, colonoscopies, skin cancer screening, mammograms, pap smears, prostate exams, lung cancer screenings and more.

Nothing should ever keep you from taking care of your health, and that includes the COVID pandemic. 

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Across the country, there has been a dramatic decrease in patients seeking cancer screening and diagnostic testing. This trend has continued even though the COVID-19 crisis in our state has eased, elective procedures have resumed and medical facilities throughout New Jersey have established protocols to safely conduct health screenings and medical procedures and treatments.

The situation is urgent. 

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) noted that there has been a sharp drop in cancer diagnoses since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic because individuals are not getting screened and detecting cancers early. 

A new study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that, in the early months of the pandemic, diagnoses for six types of cancer— breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric and esophageal—dropped more than 46%. These delays in diagnoses will, unfortunately, lead to many more diagnoses of less curable late-stage cancer. To avoid even worse consequences, screenings should not be further delayed.

These delays in cancer care are not necessary.

Atlantic Health System cancer programs, services and offices are open to see patients in need of new, current, and follow-up care, with all necessary precautions in place to help ensure patient safety.  Facilities and teams maintain a safe environment by monitoring employees, patients and visitors with temperature checks, health and travel status updates, mandatory masks, hand sanitizing, social distancing when possible, and strict environment disinfection protocols including sanitizing rooms between patient visits. Health care providers have also ensured that all areas of hospitals and outpatient centers where COVID patients are being treated and screened are separate from other patient spaces.    

Now is the time to get a mammogram, colonoscopy or other screening or diagnostic test. The lives that are saved will be many.

To book a screening or to learn more, visit

Dr. Eric Whitman is medical director of Atlantic Health System Cancer Care and founding director of the Atlantic Melanoma Center.