It’s Time to Reschedule Your Postponed Mammogram

Two women in medical mask talking to each other in hospital

During the “stay at home” order, life slowed down and appointments got moved. If your annual mammogram screening fell into this time period, it’s time to reschedule this important appointment. Across Centura Health, there remains a 35% decline in mammography screenings, which worries caregivers about long-term impact.

We want to remind our patients and communities that all their health care needs, whether life-threatening conditions or annual screenings, can be treated safely during this phase of the COVID-19 pandemic.

”We believe a key reason that patients are slow to return is the fear of contracting COVID-19 in a health care setting,” says Toni Green-Cheatwood, DO, breast surgeon and Director of Breast Oncology at Centura Health – Penrose Cancer Center. “Across the country, people were encouraged to ‘stay at home,’ which was the right message to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Now, as the first wave of this pandemic is behind us, patients should remember the long-term importance of self-care, prevention and wellness visits.”

According to the National Cancer Institute, breast cancer is the second-most common cancer in women after skin cancer. Mammograms can detect breast cancer early, possibly before it has spread. If you’ve been putting off having your mammogram, here are three reasons to stop delaying and schedule one now:

Reason number 1: Early detection may save your life.

When breast cancer is found early, the cancer is often smaller and treatable with better chances of long-term survival. Regular breast self-exams, annual clinical exams and annual screening mammograms can help detect breast cancer early.

Reason number 2: Mammograms are not painful.

It is true that you may feel some discomfort during a mammogram, but this discomfort lasts only a few seconds. It is not a painful procedure. And it is OK to talk to your radiology technologist, who will be performing the mammogram, about your pain concerns. He or she will be able to answer any questions and help you relax during the screening.

Reason number 3. There’s nothing to be afraid of.

Many women choose not to have a mammogram because they are afraid of being diagnosed with breast cancer and as of late, people are also afraid they will be exposed to COVID-19. It’s important to remember that a mammogram can be the easiest way to find a problem early, and the earlier the cancer is found, the easier it is to treat and the more likely you are to survive. In addition to conducting thorough cleaning between patients, Centura Health hospitals and facilities have implemented enhanced safety measures, such as screening patients for symptoms of the illness before they enter the imaging center and isolating anyone who shows signs of the virus.

“Talking to your doctor about your fears can help you overcome them,” explains Dr. Toni Green-Cheatwood. “When patients delay care, the likelihood of a more permanent negative outcome increases. Centura Health Mammography Centers are open and receiving patients. We do want people to continue social distancing, but we don’t want people to delay screenings that can reduce the risk of death due to breast cancer.”