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Why You Should Not Delay Or Cancel Breast Cancer Screenings Because Of The Pandemic

Woman stands at an x-ray scanner to undergo a mammogram.
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A woman undergoes a m

Early detection is key to successful treatment of breast cancer. A breast surgical oncologist warns delayed or canceled mammograms can lead to diagnoses at later stages.

KERA's Sam Baker talked about this, and improved safety standards for undergoing mammograms, with Dr. Allison DiPasquale of Texas Breast Specialists.

INTERVIEW HIGHLIGHTS

At first:

Mammograms were actually postponed and canceled from the hospital standpoint to protect patients. But now that we know more about this virus, we know the way it works and we have taken the correct precautions, such as:

  • Limiting the amount of people that are in the waiting room.
  • Scheduling an exact time so that you're not waiting around to get your imaging.
  • Sterilizing the rooms in between mammograms
  • Patients are put into another holding room by themselves where then they can leave after their imaging is done.

Why patients cancel or delay now:

I think it's a combination of fear. And also during this pandemic, your mind is somewhere else. You may not be remembering, "Oh, hey, it's time for my mammogram.” This pandemic is not going to end soon and we have to take care of ourselves.

Why the screening is important:

Not doing it means that they could have something underlying that's missed. If cancer or any sort of suspicious masses are in the breast and are not detected early and they wait another year or two and come in, then they may present in a later stage. The reason mammograms save lives is because it's early detection. It detects it before you can feel it, before you have any skin changes, before you have any symptoms.

Who should get a breast cancer screening:

The majority of people should get a mammogram.

  • Average risk: If you do not have a family history of breast cancer, you do not have a personal history of cancer or radiation therapy or have had previous biopsies or abnormal mammograms, you’re average risk. Average risk women should start at age 40 and go yearly until they no longer are healthy enough to even get a mammogram.
  • Higher risk: We start earlier, depending on your risk factors. Your physician can help you decide when to start your mammogram.

RESOURCES:

American Cancer Society: Cancer Screening During The Covid-19 Pandemic

Coronavirus and Breast Cancer

Interview highlights were lightly edited for clarity.

Got a tip? Email Sam Baker at sbaker@kera.org. You can follow Sam on Twitter @srbkera.

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