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Most people with kidney disease don’t know they have it. March is National Kidney Month and we are encouraging everyone to learn more about their kidney health.
More than 37 million Americans have chronic kidney disease – that’s about one in seven adults. The disease is underdiagnosed since a person may lose up to 90 percent of their kidney function before symptoms develop.
The biggest risk factors for kidney disease are diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and family history of kidney failure. Early identification and treatment may help to slow kidney damage and prevent additional health problems.
The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases has provided these healthy lifestyle tips to take charge of kidney health:
At the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, elective medical procedures, including cancer screening, were largely put on hold to prioritize urgent needs and reduce the risk of the spread of COVID-19 in healthcare settings. One consequence of this has been a substantial decline in cancer screening.
As states and other authorities re-open businesses and ease restrictions, many healthcare facilities are starting to offer elective procedures again, including cancer screening. Restarting cancer screening requires careful consideration of the risks and benefits of screening, along with ensuring safety for both patients and healthcare personnel.
Decisions about restarting screening depend on many factors, and they may not be the same for every person. They will likely vary by community while the pandemic continues.
If you had an appointment for screening that was postponed or canceled, talk to your healthcare team about when to reschedule. Your provider can discuss balancing the risks and benefits of being screened now or postponing for a later date, taking into account your personal and family history, other risk factors, and the timing of your last screening test.
It is also important to keep in mind that we’re focusing here on cancer screening. Screening tests look for cancer in people who don’t have symptoms. These tests are different from tests your doctor might order if you have symptoms that could be from cancer. If you have signs or symptoms that might be from cancer, for instance, a lump in the breast or blood in the stool, you should discuss this with your provider right away, as you will need exams or tests that evaluate those particular signs and symptoms.
Screening recommendations are general recommendations for large groups of people, but there may be flexibility for some screening tests. For example:
Many women get cervical cancer screening every year. However, no organization recommends cervical cancer screening with a Pap test any more often than every 3 years, and if an HPV test is used, no more often than every 5 years. If you have had normal test results in the past, getting cervical cancer screening at this time is not urgent.
Many women get an annual mammogram for breast cancer screening. However, leading organizations that issue screening guidelines recommend that average risk women ages 55 and older can be screened every two years. If you are 55 or older and had a normal mammogram within the last year, you could choose to have your next mammogram up to 24 months after your last one.
There are several options for colorectal cancer screening for people at average risk. For example, stool tests, such as fecal immunochemical testing (FIT) or a stool DNA test (such as Cologuard), can be done safely at home. If the stool test result is positive, you will need a colonoscopy, and it will be important to talk with your doctor about the safest way to proceed with this. Colonoscopy as a screening test is still an option, but it may be harder to get an appointment now compared to before the COVID-19 pandemic.
Your health care provider can help you determine what screening schedule and which screening tests are best for you at this time.
As your regular facility for health care returns to providing cancer screening, it’s important that it is done as safely as possible. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has recommendations for healthcare facilities to reduce the risk of COVID transmission:
We hope this information provides useful guidance as you consider when and how to safely resume cancer screening. Every community has its own unique situation and will need to rely on the judgment of the health care professionals and leaders in the community to make the best decisions possible.
This information is intended to help you understand the importance of returning to regular cancer screening as soon as it is safe to do so. At the same time, it’s important to remember that if you have signs or symptoms of cancer, or if you have additional risk factors that put you in a high-risk group, you should consult your doctor or a health provider right away for guidance.
As always, we remain available to discuss your questions and concerns. Live chat is available through our website or you can call us anytime, day or night, at 1-800-227-2345.
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