June 5 2020
TOKYO – Japan’s COVID-19 epidemic is putting people’s lives at risk by causing postponements of cancer screenings, reducing opportunities for detection and treatment in the early stages of cancer.
Experts are urging people to take examinations once screening providers resume operations.
In April, the health ministry urged the country’s 47 prefectures to call off cancer screenings in principle to prioritize coronavirus-related treatments. The move was also aimed at avoiding the three Cs of closed and crowded spaces involving close contact, seen as high-risk environments during the virus crisis.
After the government-declared state of emergency over the virus was lifted last month, the government called for prefectures to resume screenings in line with each region’s infection levels and after taking appropriate prevention measures.
Group cancer screenings have been canceled nationwide, with Sapporo in Hokkaido, northernmost Japan, suspending screenings from April 14 to the end of May, and the western Japan city of Osaka halting checkups from April through this month. Many medical examinations at companies have also been canceled or postponed.