More than a dozen patient advocacy organizations and medical societies have formed a coalition to promote public health by encouraging patients to seek necessary screenings, vaccinations, scans, and treatments that have been put off as a result of concerns about COVID-19. Because these procedures help control and prevent disease, postponement may lead to long-term consequences.

Progression of cancer could be one of those consequences. In a June 19 editorial in Science, National Cancer Institute Director Norman Sharpless, MD, wrote that delays in screenings, diagnoses, and treatment because of the pandemic could have a significant and lasting impact: “Cancers being missed now will still come to light eventually, but at a later stage … and with worse prognoses,” he said, noting that a conservative model of the effect of such delays for breast and colorectal cancers alone “suggests almost 10,000 excess deaths” over the next decade.

To address this issue, SNMMI has reached out to multiple organizations to propose a unified communications campaign. At the date of the launch, the coalition included six patient advocacy groups, seven medical and imaging societies, and an industry trade group.

The #ReturnToCare Coalition aims to help patients understand that it is important to seek necessary care in a safe, timely fashion and that healthcare facilities are taking the necessary precautions to ensure patient safety.

For more information and a list of coalition members, visit Organizations interested in joining the effort are encouraged to apply using the contact form on the home page.