Is it safe to resume cancer screenings?
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed many aspects of our lives, including how people shop for groceries or interact with their friends and family. It also has left people hesitant to seek the health care you need, which can lead to dire consequences.
According a recent study, preventive screenings for breast cancer during March 2020 were down 94% compared to average screening rates before January 2020.
This dramatic decrease in screenings is attributed to COVID-19. When COVID-19 reached pandemic levels, many health care organizations and professional societies, including the American Cancer Society, recommended that patients temporarily pause any scheduled screenings.
“We understand the dangers posed by COVID-19 and the anxieties that come with it, especially in areas like Chicago, where Latinos are reported to have a higher infection rate than any other racial or ethnic group,” says Dr. Celeste Cruz, breast surgeon at Advocate Illinois Masonic Medical Center. “But delaying your health care, such as lifesaving preventive screenings, can be a danger, too.”
This can pose even greater danger to minority communities that face health care disparities. In the United States, about 1 in every 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer at some point in their lives, but women of color are disproportionately affected by breast cancer. In fact, breast cancer is the most common type of cancer and the leading cause of cancer-related death among Hispanic women, according to the American Cancer Society.
You should have an open conversation with your doctor about when it’s right for you to start breast cancer screenings.
“I strongly urge women to not delay their breast cancer screenings. While the pandemic has been a source of fear and anxiety, in many ways, it has never been a safer time to return to the doctor’s office,” Dr. Cruz says. “Our Safe Care Promise guarantees additional measures – such as screening and masking for every visitor – beyond our standard precautions to minimize the risk of exposure as we reopen our doors to the public.”
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