January 18, 2021
EDMONTON — Beginning January 18, Alberta Health Services (AHS) is launching a public campaign to remind Albertans to listen to their bodies, and if something feels off, to book an appointment to see their family doctor.
Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, data has shown that people are not seeking care for serious health concerns. The campaign is targeting symptoms that may be linked to a cancer diagnosis such as changes to a mole, blood in urine, a new or growing lump or unexplained weight loss or gain.
“Everyone wants to do the right thing during the pandemic and this should include visiting a doctor, if they have a health concern,” says Minister of Health, Tyler Shandro. “The health system in Alberta has been and continues to be open to help diagnose and manage illness and disease. I encourage Albertans to seek medical help when needed.”
“Cancer diagnosis rates typically increase slightly each year in Alberta; however, our data shows us that well over 2000 cancers have gone undiagnosed since the COVID pandemic started last March, compared to data from the same period in 2019," says Dr. Doug Stewart, physician and medical oncologist with AHS. "This is very alarming. We are now seeing cases where Albertans did not seek medical attention for several months after they first noticed warning symptoms and their diagnosis is unfortunately more serious than it could have been if it was caught earlier.”
When a select group of Albertans were asked why they may not seek medical attention for changes to their bodies, the most common responses were that they were afraid to contract COVID-19, and they didn’t want to take resources away from those were may need it more.
“Your family doctor is there for you and available to assist if you are experiencing health concerns such as new changes to your body,” says Dr. Linda Slocombe, Senior Medical Director, Primary Health Care, AHS. “Primary care offices are screening patients for COVID-19 prior to appointments and are taking the necessary safety precautions to protect patients and staff. They are safe places to seek care when needed. Please contact your doctor and do not delay if you have health concerns.”
More information about cancer symptoms and how to find a family doctor can be found at: ahs.ca/bodytalk