Doctors warn against postponing mammograms because of COVID-19

Research shows a drop in breast cancer screenings this year, likely because of disruptions from COVID-19.

As Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off, experts are warning womennot to postpone their mammograms.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, many medical centers stopped doing mammogram screenings for a few weeks until they could implement safety protocols.

Mammogram screenings are back but there’s a new concern that too many women are postponing their appointments.

“Please don’t postpone your mammogram,” said Mayo Clinic Breast Imaging Radiologist Dr. Robert Maxwell. “Just because the virus is amongst us, the other diseases that we suffer from don’t stop.”

Dr. Maxwell said for a disease where early detection is key, waiting too long can be concerning.

“One or two months is likely not going to make a difference but six months or more, that starts to be concerning, and you wouldn’t want to wait that long,” said Maxwell.

According to the Epic Health Research Network, there’s been an 86 to 94 percent drop in preventative cancer screenings in the U.S. presumably because of access disruptions from COVID-19.

Dr. Maxwell said Mayo Clinic is taking every safety measure to help patients feel safe.

“We clean our waiting room every so often, I believe it’s every 30 minutes, we have people socially distanced, the machines obviously are cleaned every time,” said Dr. Maxwell.

The recommendation for women to start getting mammograms is at age 40 but that doesn’t mean it can’t affect younger women.

“We had a patient as young as 25 and as old as 99 who had been diagnosed with breast cancer in the previous week, so it was quite an age range,” said Dr. Maxwell.

Take this as your reminder to make your appointment right away, especially if you have a family history of breast cancer.