Appointments delayed, exams canceled: SoCal women see health care waylaid by pandemic

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An undated photo shows Dr. Ritu Salani, a gynecologic oncology specialist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. She's concerned about women delaying preventive exams and treatments due to COVID-19. “Screening is so important,” she said. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

An undated photo shows Dr. Ritu Salani, a gynecologic oncology specialist at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. She’s concerned about women delaying preventive exams and treatments due to COVID-19. “Screening is so important,” she said. (Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

When Stephanie Fajuri, 36, had an abnormal Pap smear a decade ago, her doctor advised her to come in for annual screenings to keep an eye on her health. She was diligent about doing so regularly — until she was confronted by a pandemic.

An appointment scheduled last summer was pushed to December, Fajuri said. By the time she finally saw a doctor, she had developed more abnormal cells and had to undergo a procedure to remove them from her cervix.

“Thankfully, I am vigilant about my health,” she said, “but this is how women develop cervical cancer.”

Like Fajuri, women across Southern California are reporting appointments delayed, exams canceled and screenings postponed because of the pandemic. Some are voluntarily opting out for fear of encountering the virus, while others have had their appointments canceled by healthcare providers rerouting resources to COVID-19 patients.

Read the full story on LATimes.com.

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