Topic: Is It Safe To Get a Mammogram During the Pandemic?
COVID-19 has disrupted our lives and left many of us feeling uneasy about doing the things we once did without hesitation. Among them — seeing healthcare providers for routine checkups and exams. But despite the uncertainty that is swirling all around us, one thing remains quite clear. We can’t let the pandemic stop us from making our health a priority. That’s especially true if you’re due for a mammogram.
The American Cancer Society estimates that this year:
- About 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer will be diagnosed in women.
- About 48,530 new cases of carcinoma in situ (CIS), a non-invasive and early form of breast cancer, will be diagnosed.
- About 42,170 women will die from breast cancer.
Early detection has been key to helping to reduce the number of deaths related to breast cancer. That’s why mammograms are so important. If you’re thinking about skipping yours because of COVID-19, diagnostic radiology specialist Laura Dean, MD, explains why it’s not a good idea to do so.
Not having a family history of breast cancer doesn’t mean you can’t get it.
Dr. Dean has heard a variety of reasons for why patients don’t believe that they need mammograms.
“One common misconception that I hear is ‘No one in my family has ever had breast cancer, so I’m really not that worried about getting it.’ But the fact is the majority (about 85%) of cancers we see occur in patients who have no family history. Therefore, if we only screen patients who are considered high risk, we would be potentially missing a majority of breast cancers in the population,” explains Dr. Dean.
Another misconception — not experiencing symptoms or feeling lumps means nothing is wrong.
“I hear patients say ‘I don’t feel anything or have any problems with my breasts.’ The purpose of a mammogram is to identify cancers before they reach a size where they can be felt. When cancers are found early, we have better chances of treating them and the treatment/surgery may potentially be less invasive,” says Dr. Dean. According to Dr. Dean, studies have also shown that most lives are saved because of screening when mammography is performed every year beginning at the age of 40.
Why some women have been avoiding mammograms during the pandemic.
As for the whys, they’ve either been rooted in uncertainty or apprehension. Dr. Dean says some patients didn’t get mammograms because of stay at home orders or fear of exposure to COVID-19. And with a lot of non-essential medical services and procedures being canceled, others might have been under the impression that they couldn’t get mammograms.
How are healthcare providers going above and beyond to keep patients safe during mammograms?
Dr. Dean emphasizes that it’s very safe to get a mammogram right now. “Many changes have been made in our work spaces to facilitate physical distancing. This includes spacing out patient appointment times to limit crowding in waiting rooms, separation of seating in waiting rooms, increased cleaning and sanitizing practices, health and temperature screenings for every patient and employee and of course, universal masking.”
Topic Discussed: Is It Safe To Get a Mammogram During the Pandemic?
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