ARKANSAS, USA — The COVID-19 pandemic has raised concerns for women causing many to postpone their annual mammograms which increase the risk of undetected cancer.
Northwest Health is encouraging women to schedule their postponed screenings or get screened if they haven't yet because when breast cancer is detected early, life-saving treatment can begin immediately.
Northwest Health says delayed screenings set back diagnosis and treatment, but early diagnosis and treatment are the best chances of survival of any cancer. The hospital also says women should not be afraid of mammograms because of the many stringent safety precautions in place to protect from COVID-19.
Northwest says to protect patients and staff from COVID exposure, it will continue social distancing practices, require masks for patients and staff and frequently clean commonly touched surfaces.
Nearly all breast cancers can be treated if found early and the most effective way to detect this cancer is yearly mammograms. Mammography became widely used in the 1980s and since then the U.S. breast cancer rate has dropped 43%.
The American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40 but different guidelines apply to women with higher risks. ACR and SBI also recommend women, especially of African American and Ashkenazi Jewish descent, should have a risk assessment at age 30 to see if breast cancer screening earlier than 40 is needed. These organizations also recommend women previously diagnosed with breast cancer be screened with magnetic resonance imaging, an MRI.