Pathology testing rates for conditions such as cancer has fallen by more than 10 per cent in the ACT due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Medical experts have said they're alarmed by figures that reveal testing rates in 2020 remain down compared with the same time last year, even during the two months that Canberra did not have any new COVID-19 cases.
Data from Capital Pathology has shown a drop of 12 per cent in the collection of tissue samples used to test for signs of cancer during this year up to September.
Tests for cervical cancer carried out by the pathologists fell sharply by 40 per cent in the same time period.
In the month of August, overall testing rates were down by 4 per cent compared to the same month in 2019.
Director of histopathology at Capital Pathology Dr Kyung Park said while it was expected cancer tests would decline during the early stages of the pandemic, levels remained low in the months that followed when Canberra had no active coronavirus cases.
"It's surprising because Canberra hasn't had a case for week, and we thought the numbers for testing would come back quickly," Dr Park said.
"The number of tests were nowhere near what we expected compared to 2019, which is concerning."
In the early stages of the pandemic hitting Canberra, Capital Pathology was doing 450 fewer tests for cancer a week due to people staying away from doctors.
In May this year, testing was down by a third compared to 2019 levels.
Dr Park said even though the ACT had gone more than 60 days without a new case of coronavirus being diagnosed, Canberrans were still being cautious in getting tested for life-threatening conditions.
"It's not just cancer diagnoses but other things such as diabetes and heart and kidney problems, and all these tests being put off as well can have an implication," he said.
It comes as a new report from Australia's peak cancer body found cancer tests and treatments dropped dramatically nationwide during the pandemic.
Figures from Cancer Australia revealed mammograms to detect breast cancer decreased by 37 per cent between March and April.
Surgical procedures to remove melanomas declined by 16 per cent, while non-surgical treatments for skin cancer fell by almost a third.
Colonoscopies and sigmoidoscopies, used to detect colorectal cancers, had the largest decrease with those procedures dropping by 55 per cent.
Cancer Australia chief executive Dorothy Keefe said the fear of coronavirus prevented many people from seeking medical support in the initial months of the pandemic.
"I think it's likely there'll be an increase in cancer presentations in coming months," Professor Keefe said.
"Surgeons and oncologists have said it was quiet during the pandemic and they're expecting an increase in their workload."