A simple mammogram can save a woman's life, but medical officials are concerned that because of COVID-19, they have missed the early diagnosis window.
“There has been a dramatic decrease in screening mammography. They are most useful for women who get one regularly,” said Dr. William Dooley, an oncologist with the Stephenson Cancer Center.
This past year, hospitals turned their focus to COVID-19 patients.
“For women who have surgery first, which is a part of breast cancer treatment. That the time for surgery is important,” said Dr. Dooley.
A study released after seven years of research says the quicker you can get in for surgery after a breast cancer diagnosis, the better the outcome. That makes yearly screenings far more critical than doctors once thought:
“It made a fairly profound difference,” said Dr. Dooley. “Those patients are most helped with immediate surgery. Surgery in less than 60 days.”
Patients who did not get surgery within 61-90 days after diagnosis were 18% more likely to see their tumor size upstaged.
Women who waited longer than 90 days for surgery saw a 47% chance of tumor size upstaging.
“All women are at some risk. About one in eight women who live to their mid-80s will get breast cancer,” said Dr. Dooley. “The most important thing is getting started on treatment. Do not wait. Do not schedule something else. It can’t wait.”
Research is ongoing to determine the long-term effects of surgery delays on breast cancer patients.
If you need to get screened, the state can help.
Click here for is more information.