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Missed A Cancer Screening? Get Screened For Free Monday At UnityPoint

Methodist North
Hannah Alani
UnityPoint Health Methodist North, 2338 West Van Winkle Way, in Peoria.

Did you miss a cancer screening during the pandemic?

You're not alone. Cancer screenings fell by 90 percent during the months of March, April and May 2020 at UnityPoint's Peoria-area hospitals.

In an effort to get as many people screened as possible, UnityPoint is setting up "one-stop shop" screening events on National Cancer Screening Day.

From 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday, patients can walk into Methodist North in Peoria, 2338 W. Van Winkle Way, or Pekin Hospital in Pekin, 600 S. 13th St. for free lung, colon, skin, breast and cervical cancer screenings.

Patients will first visit five stations to determine eligibility for each screening. Upon entering, they'll be given a passport to take notes, Anne Bowman, director of oncology for UnityPoint, said.

If they meet eligibility requirements, they can be screened that day.

The lung cancer screening takes about five minutes, Bowman said.

The pap smear screening for cervical cancer, the mammogram screening for breast cancer and the skin cancer screening exams are all about 15 minutes each.

Screening passport
Hannah Alani
Unity Point will give passports to patients who come in for cancer screenings.

The screening tool for colon cancer is a colonoscopy, which will not take place Monday, Bowman said. Once eligibility is determined on Monday, however, patients can make appointments for future colonoscopies.

Bowman encouraged anyone of age to come in for screenings — even if they are symptom-free.

“If we catch you cancer earlier, the likelihood that we can treat it and that it’s survivable is greatly increased,” Bowman said. “If we delay screenings, that’s when we see later stage cancers and that’s when it’s harder for us to treat.”

Dr. Mark Meeker practices internal medicine at OSF, which also saw a "substantial" drop-off in cancer screenings at the start of the pandemic.

"It hit a low in April ... we were down over 90 percent," he said. "Over the course of those three months, we saw at least a 70 percent drop."

While patients have since returned screenings, Meeker said OSF has still yet to make up the “huge gap” in missed screenings.

He encouraged patients who are of age to get screened as soon as possible.

“We do anticipate we will see a number of more advanced cancers in the future because of a lack of screenings,” he said.

Recommended screening ages are as follows:

  • Lung – 50+ with smoking history
  • Skin – 20+
  • Colon – 50+
  • Cervical – 21-64
  • Breast – 40+

Learn more about UnityPoint's screening event online.

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