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Why It’s Important to Take Charge of Your Health

September 18, 2020

Early detection can save lives

Have you delayed or avoided medical care due to concerns related to COVID-19? If you have, you’re not alone. An estimated 41% of adults have done the same, according to a survey administered in June.

That estimate includes 12% who avoided urgent or emergency care and 32% who avoided routine care, according to the survey conducted by Qualtrics, LLC.

In a local survey by Atlantic Health System, 34% of respondents said they chose to cancel, delay, or reschedule an appointment for routine care. Though infection rates have decreased in the region, fears of getting COVID-19 are still keeping some patients away from important screenings, diagnosis, and treatment for non-COVID-19 diseases. 

Experts are concerned about a second epidemic associated with COVID-19. Scott Lauter, MD, MBA, FACP, FHM, chief medical officer of Atlantic Medical Group, said this would include cancers not screened, detected and treated in an earlier and curable stage.  Uncontrolled chronic conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, diabetes, lung disease and high cholesterol can also become very serious if left untreated. “The time to avoid or delay is over,” he said. 

Watch a recorded Community Conversation where Dr. Lauter and Faith Goldman, MD, of Atlantic Breast Associates in Branchburg shared crucial information and answered questions about the screenings and examinations you should get now. 


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The Dangers of Delayed Diagnosis

When it comes to cancer, early intervention is very important and can greatly improve outcomes. 

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association analyzed weekly changes in the number of patients with newly identified cancer before and during the COVID-19 pandemic. Researchers found a significant decline (46%) in newly identified patients with all six common types of cancer (breast, colorectal, lung, pancreatic, gastric, and esophageal). Declines ranged from 25% for pancreatic cancer to 52% for breast cancer.

Almost 10,000 additional people may die from breast and colorectal cancer over the next ten years, according to modeling by the National Cancer Institute intended to gauge the effect of COVID-19 on cancer screening and treatment. The estimate would amount to about a 1% increase in deaths from those cancers.

The Road to Long-Term Health

Even during the COVID-19 pandemic, anyone experiencing a medical emergency should get care right away. Beyond that, the road to long-term health begins with your primary care doctor who oversees all your necessary screenings and can identify and treat health issues before they get worse.

“Now is also the time to see your doctor for preventative care or get caught up on screenings,” Dr. Lauter said. “Make sure your vaccinations are up to date too, including the flu shot which he said is particularly important this year.”

Recommended Screenings for Adults

Preventive screenings are one of the best ways to detect early signs of conditions or disease before they develop into serious illness.

For a full list of screenings based on current recommended guidelines for adults, check out our infographic.

Print this out to keep track of the appointments that are right for you.

Current recommended guidelines for screenings for adults include:

  • Mammogram to detect and prevent breast cancer
  • PAP screening to test for cervical cancer
  • PSA Screening to test for prostate cancer
  • Testicular Screening to screen for testicular cancer
  • Dental exam to stay on top of disease and decay
  • Glucose test to measure and track risk of diabetes
  • Blood pressure test to measure how hard your heart is working
  • Cholesterol test to measure your risk for heart attack and stroke
  • Skin exam to identify and monitor skin growths
  • Mental health evaluation to explore the prevalence of anxiety and depression
  • Hearing and vision exam to evaluate the need for sensory support
  • Low-dose CT scan to screen for lung cancer
  • Colonoscopy to test for colon and rectal cancers
  • Immunizations to protect against infection and disease
  • Bone density scan to measure osteoporosis and bone loss

For patients with increased risk due to family history, health conditions or lifestyle choices, your primary care doctor may recommend earlier or additional screenings.

If you have chronic conditions, see your doctor now to get back on track treating your high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, lung disease.  

Safe Places for Care

Atlantic Health System hospitals and doctors’ offices have enhanced already stringent safety measures to ensure the safety of our caregivers and patients. This includes temperature and symptom screenings, express check ins, social distancing and wearing masks and thorough cleaning procedures.

Learn more >

Recent Events

Take Charge of Your Health

September is National Preparedness Month, so now is the time to take charge of your health. During this recent Community Conversation, Scott Lauter, MD, MBA, FACP, FHM, Chief Medical Officer, Atlantic Medical Group and Faith Goldman, MD, Atlantic Breast Associates - Branchburg share some crucial information and answer your questions about the screenings and examinations you should get now to protect your health and well being!