Jill Biden encourages Americans to get cancer screenings after COVID disruptions

 April 17, 2023

First Lady Jill Biden encouraged Americans to get regular cancer screenings, saying it's critical to checked after the disruptions induced by COVID. 

Biden, 71, said she was diagnosed with cancerous lesions during a routine screening.

“Lo and behold, I got cancer in a routine checkup,” Biden told Live with Kelly and Ryan. 

Jill Biden's cancer message

The First Lady had a basal cell carcinoma, the most common type of skin cancer.

Biden noted that cancer diagnoses may have been missed "during the pandemic" -- a bit of a gloss, as some argue that lockdowns (which Democrats supported) exacerbated the issue by restricting access to medical care.

“I’m fine,” she said. “But one of the things I wanted to remind people — I think during the pandemic we put off our screenings for so long. Now’s the time to get screened.”

The Biden family has a tragic history with cancer: Joe Biden's son from a previous marriage, Beau Biden, died of brain cancer at the age of 46.

Joe Biden, who is 80, had a basal cell carcinoma removed in February during a physical. Basal cell carcinoma is a common form of skin cancer that rarely spreads.

Biden's mission

Biden has championed a "moonshot" initiative to halve cancer deaths within 25 years. The National Institutes of Health issued a sobering assessment Monday that Biden's goal is "impossible" without "addressing cancer health equity."

Cancer deaths are dropping at a rate of 2.3 percent, but that figure would need to be 2.7 percent to reach Biden's goal, the study found.

“Achieving a 50% reduction in cancer mortality in 25 years will be impossible without addressing cancer health equity,” said Monica M. Bertagnolli, M.D., director of the National Cancer Institute. "For several of the strategies highlighted in this study, improving access is critical.”

Lockdown impact

The study recommended reductions in smoking and obesity, more early treatment, and action to lower "inequities in access."

The researchers cited progress as of 2019: lung cancer deaths were dropping 4.7 percent that year, while colorectal cancer deaths were dropping 2 percent and breast cancer deaths were falling 1.2 percent.

Hopefully those trends aren't erased: millions of cancer screenings were missed at the height of the pandemic lockdowns in 2020, which likely contributed to people developing more advanced forms of cancer.

The overbearing response to COVID also damaged trust in the medical profession, which probably isn't helping bring people back into the doctor's office.

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