Cancer Treatment Centers of America CEO Warns of Impending 'Shadow Curve' as Cancer Screenings and Treatments Plunge Amid Pandemic

May 21, 2020

Cancer Treatment Centers of America CEO Warns of Impending ‘Shadow Curve’ as Cancer Screenings and Treatments Plunge Amid Pandemic

CTCA remains fully operational for all cancer care to flatten curve and launches online risk assessment, Alexa Skill and COVID-19 Cancer Chatbot to help people virtually

Boca Raton, Fla. May 21, 2020 – The COVID-19 pandemic has caused disruption in oncology care and is creating a cancer “shadow curve” that may result in a dramatic spike in undiagnosed and untreated cancer cases as a side-effect of the pandemic. The US has already witnessed a 37 percent drop in cancer care diagnosis compared to this same time period last year, demonstrating a need to reopen testing and screening as soon as possible.

To combat the “shadow curve,” Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA), a national network of hospitals and outpatient centers, has remained operational for patients during COVID-19 and has taken every precaution to limit exposure. CTCA® notes there are nearly 1.8 million cases of cancer diagnosed each year, but people who have skipped appointments over the last three months are not getting diagnosed. If they wait until next year, when an undiagnosed condition may worsen, even if it remains treatable, they could face dramatically worse consequences to their quality of life for years.

“We must do everything possible to avoid the cancer shadow curve. Cancers are going undiagnosed, undetected and undertreated as disruption continues and important cancer screenings are postponed,” says Pat Basu, MD, MBA, CTCA President & CEO. “Cancer doesn’t wait for COVID-19 and neither will we. We will continue to screen people and provide treatment, while creating and implementing new tools to empower people to identify specific screenings and steps they must take.”

A recent survey from the American Cancer Society stated that half of all cancer patients surveyed reported some impact on their care due to COVID-19. Most startling is that among those in active treatment, more than a quarter “report a delay in their care, and 13 percent say they don’t know when it will be rescheduled.”

To help more people navigate the current cancer environment, CTCA developed three virtual tools that are now accessible to anyone interested in evaluating their own personal cancer risk or learning more about cancer and COVID-19.

  • Online Risk Assessment. Providing immediate access to personalized cancer information through an online risk assessment tool for seven common cancer types.
  • Alexa Skill: Cancer Center for Alexa. Expanding access to the full resources and patient empowerment tools available on cancercenter.com to any Amazon device by saying Alexa, enable cancer center.”
  • Virtual assistant. Offering answers to questions found at the complex intersection of COVID-19 and cancer. Available on cancercenter.com.

“The key to combatting preventable cancer deaths is often through awareness, empowerment and education. During the COVID-19 pandemic and beyond, we need to open doors for those who may feel isolated. Technology is a great way to empower patients and reach that goal,” says Maurie Markman, MD, President of CTCA Medicine & Science. “As we know, early detection saves lives, and empowering patients with information to detect potential cancers early might have a positive impact in an era where tremendous negative downstream impact on cancer rates is predicted.”

Online Cancer Risk Assessment

Unlike other options in the market, the CTCA Risk Assessment Tool allows users to gauge their risk for over seven (7) of the most common cancer types through a single, easy-to-use questionnaire. Results are personalized based on the user’s medical history, providing critical education on the most up-to-date clinical guidance and empowering users to manage their risk for cancer or a late stage diagnosis. Recommendations developed by a cross-functional clinical team include screening protocols, genetic counseling, lifestyle changes and advanced prevention. Take the assessment to receive an individualized cancer risk management strategy.

Cancer Center for Alexa

The Cancer Center for Alexa Skill is a voice-activated question and answer tool, empowering users to ask Alexa questions they may have about cancer or services available at CTCA. The Skill was built using CTCA’s comprehensive collection of information currently available on cancercenter.com and can answer over 800 questions on more than 40 different cancer types, symptoms, risk factors and treatment options. Of the thousands of Health & Fitness Skills available within the Amazon Alexa Skill store, only Cancer Center for Alexa offers both comprehensive information in response to questions and the opportunity to speak with an oncology information specialist for any further questions, support or to learn more about pursuing screening or treatment. Access this tool by simply saying, “Alexa, enable cancer center” to any Amazon device. 

COVID-19 and Cancer Chatbot/Virtual Assistant

This conversational artificial intelligence (AI) tool is designed to educate and inform consumers who have questions and concerns about COVID-19 in a cancer context. Users can access information across the cancer spectrum and perform an assessment of COVID-19 symptoms according to CDC guidelines. The cancer-focused assessment and frequently asked questions were developed by a cross-functional CTCA clinical team. With a knowledge base of over 150 facts related to COVID-19 and cancer, the CTCA COVID-19 and Cancer Chatbot is unique in the market, covering the intersection of COVID-19 and cancer for consumers at large.

About Cancer Treatment Centers of America

Cancer Treatment Centers of America® (CTCA) is a national oncology network of hospitals and outpatient care centers offering an integrated approach that combines surgery, radiation, chemotherapy, immunotherapy and advancements in precision medicine with supportive therapies to manage side effects and enhance quality of life during treatment and into survivorship. CTCA® publishes treatment results annually including patient experience, length of life, quality of life, patient safety and quality of care. CTCA also offers qualified patients a range of clinical trials that may reveal new treatment options supported by scientific and investigational research. CTCA patient satisfaction scores consistently rank among the highest for all cancer care providers in the country. Visit cancercenter.com for more information.