A woman who missed routine cancer screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic has been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer.
Woobie Rust, 39, from New York told Fox News she performed a self-exam after experiencing breast pain while lying on a massage table.
Soon after, she met with a doctor and, following a few tests, was diagnosed with metastatic stage breast cancer.
Rust is hoping that others will hear her story, and make sure not to miss routine screenings and avoid ending up in a situation like her own.
Woobie Rust (pictured) missed her routine medical screenings during the COVID-19 pandemic, and has now been diagnosed with stage 4 breast cancer. She hopes others will hear her story, and make sure to avoid missing crucial screenings
Dr Sarah Cate, director of the special surveillance and breast program at Mount Sinai Chelsea Medical Center, is helping treat Rust and also warns people not to miss regular COVID-19 screenings
Rust told Fox News that her mother was a breast cancer survivor, and she had regularly undergone an annual physical exam until Covid disrupted her regular schedule last year.
She is like many who missed routine screenings for cancer, kidney disease and other serious conditions last year, leading to an uptick in the amount of serious cases diagnosed over the past year.
Dr Sarah Cate, director of the special surveillance and breast program at Mount Sinai Chelsea Medical Center warned that missing screenings will hurt breast cancer patients in the long term.
‘There will definitely be adverse effects on breast cancer from COVID,’ she told Fox News.
She says that she is already beginning to see the effects of many people missing routine screenings last year.
‘It is still too early to see this effect, but certainly, anecdotally, I am seeing lots of locally advanced breast cancers which need chemotherapy prior to surgery, and some cancers where they have spread outside the breasts and lymph nodes,’ Cate said
‘Early detection is the best way to prevent death from cancer.’
Many health officials and researchers are sounding the alarm about missed medical screenings, and multiple studies have come out highlighting the dangers of these missed screenings.
A Japanese study from September found that the amount of people diagnosed with colorectal cancer dropped by 13 percent last year, with incidents of the least serious cases dropping by 33 percent.
More than two-thirds, 68 percent, of cases of the colorectal cancer were stage 3, and researchers believed the decrease in early stage cancer and increase in late stage was the result of many skipping regular screenings.
The Japanese researchers noted that missing these screenings likely reduced people’s likelihood of surviving cancer.
‘Among patients with colon cancer, overall survival decreases when the time from diagnosis to surgery exceeds 30 to 40 days, and overall survival among patients with rectal cancer decreases when the time from the end of neoadjuvant therapy to surgery exceeds seven to eight weeks,’ researchers wrote.
‘Six other systematic reviews have also indicated that overall survival decreases when the time to surgery exceeds 12 weeks.’
Other studies have found similar results.
A study from Birmingham, England, found that one in seven cancer patients skipped a potentially life saving surgery during the pandemic.
Every single one of those patients reported that they skipped the surgery out of fear of the virus.
This phenomena was not reserved to cancer patients either, with a Brown University study finding the instances of kidney disease diagnoses dropping during the pandemic, but with cases that were diagnosed being more serious.
Researchers also believe many patients may have died before even starting treatment due to how long they ended up delaying screenings.
‘The significant decline in the number of patients with incident kidney failure in the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic…may be due to several factors,’ researchers from Brown University wrote.
‘Some patients may have delayed treatment initiation, but others may have died before being able to initiate treatment.’
Some believe that there are more of these ancillary deaths, people who died as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic but not from the virus itself, than there are deaths from the virus worldwide.
Rust told Fox News that she hopes sharing her story will encourage Americans to catch-up on their routine screenings.
‘My hope is that people do these tests early,’ she said.