Should You Postpone Routine Breast Cancer Screening
During COVID 19?
Breast cancer is not preventable. By the time you feel the lump through self-examination or notice some other symptom, it is usually too late. Whereas early detection dramatically raises the chances of complete cure.
The only way to find breast cancer early is with routine annual mammogram tests if you are an average risk woman above the age of 40 years. If you have a family history of breast or ovarian cancers, you may be advised by your Doctor to start annual mammograms earlier than 40 years of age.
This year, many women are in a dilemma whether to skip or postpone their routine mammogram to avoid potential exposure to corona virus. Doctors are worried that delaying mammogram puts women at life threatening risk of detecting breast cancer late. Routine mammogram for early detection of breast cancer is a life saving test, that is critical to get done on time.
Most good hospitals with mammogram facility have good protective measures against corona virus. But how can you assess that your breast screening center is doing enough to protect you from COVID-19 and is well equipped to detect breast cancer early?
Here is a basic checklist:
- Ascertain if the hospital has corona protection measures in place by checking their website or by calling them. Most hospitals do.
- Check if they have a Mammogram. Although breast screening can be done with various modalities, the reputed bodies such as CDC recommend that “Mammograms are the best way to find breast cancer early”1
- Check if the center has a 3D mammogram. 3D is the latest technology in Mammogram space that detects 20- 65% more invasive breast cancers compared to 2D alone2. It also reduces call-backs due to unclear diagnosis by upto 40% compared to 2D alone3
Of course, this write-up is neither a comprehensive guide nor meant to answer all your questions. Please do browse through this website for the most scientific and useful information on breast cancer screening and do consult your Doctor.
2Results from Friedewald, SM, et al. “Breast cancer screening using tomosynthesis in combination with digital mammography.” JAMA 311.24 (2014): 2499-2507.
3Bernardi D, Macaskill P, Pellegrini M, et al. Lancet Oncol. 2016 Aug;17(8):1105-13.