(WHTM) — New research says the number of people diagnosed with cancer has dropped significantly throughout the COVID-19 pandemic but experts are saying that’s not a good thing.

This data is from the National Institutes of Health, and experts say the lower case count likely means cases are being missed.

Many people are afraid of catching COVID-19 in healthcare environments and are not getting screened, diagnosed and treated for other diseases.

This could impact the outcome of the diseases. For breast cancer, survival rates increase when treatment is completed within 38 weeks of diagnosis.

“Another interesting aspect of that cutoff was, that cut-off was good for no matter what type of breast cancer you had, so if you had different receptor patterns of your breast cancer, it didn’t make any difference,” Dr. Debra Pratt of Cleveland Clinic said. “So we should not triage patients based on their different types of cancers because every patient can have an effect on their outcome if we’re taking too long.”

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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When it comes to detection, Dr. Pratt says regular self-breast exams at home are key. And for all women over 40 years old, mammograms are recommended.

Doctors say everyone should not neglect their routine cancer screenings and keep an eye out for cardinal signs of cancer, including unexplained weight loss or newfound lumps and bumps.