Have you been delaying your routine mammogram due to COVID-19?
- Many women are putting off their routine mammogram because of concerns about contracting COVID-19 in the medical setting.
- Mammograms are proven to lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.
- Swedish breast centers are open and provide a safe environment for those seeking care.
[3 MIN READ]
Cancer screenings are essential to keep you healthy. In fact, delaying them due to fears of contracting COVID-19 can cause more harm than good.
Swedish breast centers are welcoming patients and following extensive infection control guidelines to ensure their safety. So, if you have been putting off your routine mammogram, we urge you to schedule an appointment today.
Why mammograms are important
A mammogram is a proven tool in lowering your risk of dying from breast cancer. Postponing your annual or biennial screening by six months or a year can allow cancer that could have been caught early to progress.
So, if it’s time to schedule your regular screening mammogram – and especially if you have any concerning symptoms – don’t delay. “Cancer that is detected in the later stages is more challenging to treat, and that can have a huge impact on patients,” says Christine A. Lee, MD, FACS, interim medical director of the Breast Program at Swedish. “Instead of having a lumpectomy, these patients may need a full mastectomy. Or instead of surgery and radiation alone, they may have to undergo chemotherapy as well. These therapies may provide a cure. But an intensive regimen can significantly affect how women are able to manage their lives and responsibilities at home and work during treatment.”
COVID-19 is rife with uncertainty as infection rates across the nation ebb and flow, but that shouldn’t stop you from seeking care when you need it. Every Swedish facility is following the same strict safety measures and operating at the highest level of recommendation for infection control. For example, we are:
- Screening patients for symptoms and travel history before they enter the building
- Screening providers and staff every day before they enter the building
- Using every available method of cleaning before, during and between patient interactions.
- Requiring masks and using other personal protective equipment
“We know some people are still wary about coming in for non-emergency care, but with these strict measures in place, I would argue that it may be safer to be in a Swedish healthcare facility than in a grocery store or restaurant,” Dr. Lee says.
People with a weakened immune system are at higher risk of getting severely sick from COVID-19. But even then, the need for regular cancer screenings outweighs the risk of COVID-19 complications. “If you’re not sure what to do, the best place to start is a conversation with your primary care doctor or the provider who manages your condition,” Dr. Lee says. “If you still have questions, reach out to one of our breast centers to learn more about the many precautions and measures we are taking to provide mammograms in a safe manner.”
Breast cancer screening saves lives. How often you have a screening depends on your risk for breast cancer and your personal values.
Swedish supports the most current American Cancer Society's screening guidelines.
If you have an average risk for breast cancer, you should have a screening:
- Every year between the ages of 45 and 54
- Every 2 years when you are 55 and older
You may choose to have a screening earlier and/or more often if you feel the benefit outweighs the potential concerns. Some potential concerns are described further below.
If you have a higher risk for breast cancer, you should have screening every year. When to start screening is based on your personal risk factors.
You may have a higher risk for breast cancer if you have:
- A family history of breast cancer
- A history of previous breast biopsy with abnormal cells
- Been told by a medical professional that you have dense breasts
Time to schedule a screening
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month—the perfect time to schedule that mammogram you’ve been putting off. To get started, you can send a message to your provider through MyChart or call their office directly. You also can schedule a telehealth visit to discuss your options and make a plan that’s right for your health and safety.
To schedule a screening mammogram at any location, including one of our mobile mammography sites, call 206-215-8100.
Find a doctor
Don’t let the fear of COVID-19 keep you from making an informed decision about screenings. Talk to your doctor to determine what’s right for you. Whether you require an in-person visit or want to consult with a doctor virtually, you have options. Swedish Express Care Virtual connects you face-to-face with a nurse practitioner who can review your symptoms, provide instruction and follow-up as needed. If you need to find a doctor, you can use our provider directory.
Don’t delay life-saving cancer screenings
This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your healthcare professional’s instructions.
About the AuthorMore Content by Swedish Wellness & Lifestyle Team