Local doctor encourages cancer screenings due to increase in patients with more advanced stage cancers in years after pandemic

Local doctor encourages cancer screenings due to increase in patients post-pandemic
Published: Apr. 28, 2023 at 11:50 PM EDT
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - A local doctor says there has been a big increase in patients coming in with more advanced stages of cancer.

Dr. Lucybeth Nieves, an OBGYN oncologist at Novant Health Regional Medical Center, said the pandemic played a big role in the increase of late-stage cancers. Most of their resources were focused on taking care of patients with COVID-19, and now she urges everyone to get regular cancer screenings and avoid a late-stage cancer diagnosis where there aren’t many treatment options.

“There are things out there, that can be done if we have regular checkups with our OBGYN. And things could be prevented or caught early. And now we’re at a point where our options are very limited. And the best thing we can do is try to prolong the life of the patients. But that is I mean, there’s no cure at that point. So, it’s terrible,” Dr. Nieves said. “I think in everything prevention should be the first approach. Because if we prevent somebody to get cancer, it’s better than just trying to get the person treated after the cancer is there.”

Dr. Nieves said vaccines are also a good option to help in prevention.

More studies are now revealing ways that medical professionals can help patients.

“Now with these population studies, they’re actually seeing a decrease in the rate of ovarian cancer on those patients that decide to get their whole fallopian tube out. And we call these opportunistic surgeries, not that you’re going to show up to your doctor tomorrow and say, take them out. What this means is, if you’re already thinking or not having more babies, and you were thinking on having a tubal ligation, discuss with your OBGYN,” Dr. Nieves said.

Dr. Nieves also says people should be more cautious with other health problems that could lead to a cancer diagnosis.

“Especially increasing rates of endometrial cancer, and there’s a direct correlation with obesity, I think it overall as a community, we [need to] start paying attention that things like obesity, not only increase your risk of heart problems, your risk of diabetes, it can also increase the odds for you to develop cancer, I think that had to be one of the big points that we need to continue working on.”