The Feist-Weiller Cancer Center at the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center at Shreveport has repurposed its mobile cancer screening vans to provide testing for COVID-19 in northwest Louisiana and neighboring parts of Arkansas and Texas. The Cancer Letter interviewed Andrew D. Yurochko, PhD, director of research at Feist-Weiller Cancer Center, about the challenge of delivering cancer screenings—and health care in general—to underserved communities during a pandemic.

“Many in the underserved communities, whether suburban or rural, don’t have a primary care physician and don’t really have a strong access to health care. So, they can’t reach out to find out whether this is a common cold, or flu, or really COVID-19,” Yurochko said. 

“That same idea, whether it’s a virus or a cancer, heart disease, or any element—it’s been emphasized and exacerbated with the virus. You get the virus, and you get symptoms five to 10 days later. If it gets severe, it’s a very rapid onset—and with a cancer it can be months, years or decades. That same thing that we’re seeing with the virus is just extended in cancer,” Yurochko said.

Read more from The Cancer Letter.