From D. Randolph Drosick, MD, medical oncologist and hematologist who specializes in breast cancer

October 23, 2020

More than six months into the COVID-19 pandemic, fears are growing about the long-term impact on cancer rates. Put simply, Americans are skipping their screenings and the potential consequences are a major concern of OHC’s breast cancer experts. How we take care of ourselves today will directly impact our future health.

The stakes are high for women, especially when it comes to breast health. According to the Health Care Cost Institute, mammograms fell 77% at the height of the pandemic and were still down 23% at the start of the summer. What’s more, data from the National Cancer Institute projects as many as 10,000 additional deaths during the next 10 years from breast and colorectal cancer alone as a direct result of failure to get screened during the pandemic.

There is still time to reverse this trend and prioritize breast health. Mammograms can detect breast cancer in its earliest stages, often before women experience symptoms, and remain the single most important tool for prevention and early detection, so don’t let a fear of COVID-19 deter you from getting your mammogram.

Consider the following key factors and do not cancel your mammogram.

1. Mammograms Are the Most Reliable Way to Identify Breast Cancer Early.
According to the American Cancer Society (ACS), the size of a breast cancer and whether it has spread to other parts of the body are among the most important factors in predicting a woman’s outlook upon diagnosis. Mammograms are crucial to this process, and help doctors determine whether additional tests, such as biopsies, are required. The ACS reports that mammograms can detect changes in a woman’s breast that could indicate cancer years before physical symptoms develop.

2. Family health history may determine a women’s risk for developing breast cancer.
When it comes to breast cancer, family health history can determine your risk for developing breast and other cancers. Women with a first-degree relative, such as a mother, sister, or daughter, who had breast cancer before age 50 are considered higher risk of developing breast cancer. Our cancer genetic specialists at OHC can help determine if a woman has a genetic disorder that may increase the risk of breast cancer, like the BRCA gene.

3. Medical facilities are taking safety precautions during COVID-19.
Medical offices and hospitals have implemented safety measures to keep patients protected at screenings and appointments. If you’re nervous about an in-person visit, ask your doctor about a telemedicine appointment before you cancel your mammogram.

OHC follows the guidelines of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) including temperature screenings, face masks, social distancing, and visitor restrictions. OHC also offers telemedicine visits when appropriate.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, OHC encourages women everywhere to be proactive regarding their health. Don’t let fear of COVID-19 deter you from getting your mammogram. Learn more about breast cancer and the breast cancer experts at OHC, or request a second opinion, at or call 1-888-649-4800.

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