What is it about?

The most effective ways to prevent COVID-19 include proper hygiene practices and social distancing. The latter includes avoiding unnecessary visits to hospitals or clinics. However, for certain people, such as cancer survivors, this guideline may be confusing. While they are at a higher risk of contracting COVID-19, they also require constant medical care due to their condition. So, they need to be advised on how and when to follow COVID-19 preventive norms, particularly when cancelling a doctor's appointment. To do this, a few questions must be answered. For example, do cancer survivors practice COVID-19 preventive behavior? Do they avoid visiting the doctor? To find answers, researchers studied data of 10,760 U.S. adults the findings from the “COVID-19 Impact Survey.” Their findings showed that cancer survivors used face masks, cleaned their hands, and avoided crowds more often than other people did. Surprisingly though, several survivors canceled doctor's appointments but continued their school and work activities. This trend differed according to age, gender, and ethnicities.

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Why is it important?

These findings suggest that COVID-19 has caused some major changes in healthcare patterns. Women, for example, cancelled more appointments due to school shutdowns and household duties. Among cancer survivors, non-Hispanic White people, those with comorbid conditions, and those between the ages of 18 and 29 avoided doctor’s visits. A similar trend was found among people who did not require emergency help. There was a big concern that the authors came across during their study. Several cancer survivors appeared to have skipped doctor's visits even with typical COVID-19 symptoms. It is possible that they feared getting the infection from the clinic. They do, however, require regular health checkups, which they should not be neglecting. Overall, COVID-19 related behaviors have had a serious impact on the lives of cancer survivors. More research on such high risk populations should be widely conducted. KEY TAKEAWAY: COVID-19 has changed our way of life and how we approach healthcare. However, when taking precautions, it is important that people understand how to set priorities. This is to make sure that their health is not compromised and that they receive proper treatment even during the pandemic.

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This page is a summary of: Examining COVID-19 Preventive Behaviors among Cancer Survivors in the United States: An Analysis of the COVID-19 Impact Survey, Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers & Prevention, September 2020, American Association for Cancer Research (AACR), DOI: 10.1158/1055-9965.epi-20-0801.
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