FAYETTEVILLE, Ark — Many imaging centers were closed at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic but now they are back open. Doctors are urging women to not put off their yearly mammograms because those screenings can save lives.
The Breast Center in Fayetteville began seeing patients again in June, taking extra safety measures like extra staff at the door to screen patients and clean around the office. They’ve also spaced out their appointments.
“I believe it’s very important to catch cancers early. I came here today because it was time for my annual mammogram, and I have been called back for some extra testing,” Janell Odell said.
Like many women, Odell doesn't ever miss her annual mammogram. But some women have been more reluctant to get the screening because of COVID-19.
“We really feel the risk of overlooking a breast cancer outweighs the risk when appropriate precautions were taken,” Dr. Britton Lott said.
Dr. Lott encourages any woman who hasn’t had their annual mammogram this year to get one scheduled. She says screening mammograms are recommended once a year starting at age 40 regardless of your family history.
“Patients who may be sitting at home during this pandemic thinking 'well I don’t have a family history,' we would really still encourage them to have their annual mammogram because a delayed cancer diagnosis can lead to a more difficult treatment path,” she said.
Dr. Lott says even in a normal year, women have a lot of stressers.
“In 2020 those stressers are so extenuated," she said. "I really want women to circle back if they are watching this and remember to take care of their own health so they can keep taking care of the people around them."
Susan G. Komen estimates that this year there will be more than 42,000 breast cancer deaths in the U.S,, so that’s why screening and early detection are so important.