Mayo Dr. says women are foregoing important Breast Cancer screenings during pandemic

Doctor Rim Villard looks at the results of a mammography, on October 9, 2017 at the Paoli-Calmette institute, a fight against cancer regional centre. (ANNE-CHRISTINE POUJOULAT/AFP via Getty Images)

Breast Cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed in women, but right now, preventative screenings are down.

Experts refer to it as the COVID-19 effect as women are foregoing mammograms to avoid contracting the virus.

Health officials say delaying screenings can mean the difference between life and death.

According to the Health Care Cost Institute, mammograms fell 77 percent at the height of the pandemic and were still down 23 percent in September.

The National Breast Cancer Foundation says one in eight women in the U.S. will develop Breast Cancer in their lifetime.

Early detection is important, according to Dr. Saranya Chumsri of the Mayo Clinic’s Oncology Department. Chumsri has seen women who felt a lump months ago but declined medical attention out of concern for COVID-19.

She said those cases were preventable if the patient sought treatment sooner.

Since reopening, a lot of imaging centers are taking precautions to make sure patients are safe.

“There are things that we do to try to help reduce your chance of contracting COVID-19 when you come in for the test,” said Chumsri. “It’s really important to get screenings done. Breast Cancer, if it’s detected early, the cure rate is extremely high.”

Chumsri shared her expertise as a part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

She says that self-breast exams are good, but it’s simply not enough because some Breast Cancers can grow fast.

Whether it’s a mammogram or another type of screening, Dr. Chumsri says that, despite COVID-19, routine health checks should be a priority.