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The Truth About Breast Cancer Care Amid a Pandemic

October 20, 2020

In a world where information about COVID-19 is constantly evolving, it can be difficult to know where to turn for reliable resources about your health.

During Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Texas Oncology wants to clarify and correct common misconceptions about mammograms, breast cancer diagnoses, and treatment during the pandemic. The message is simple: Times may change, but the importance of breast cancer care does not.

Truth No. 1: In April, at the height of the pandemic, mammograms fell 77% and were still down 23% over the summer.

These statistics from the Health Care Cost Institute are concerning. By putting a mammogram on hold during the pandemic, women risk the opportunity to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages, when its most treatable. Breast cancer is the second-deadliest cancer among American women – why wait? Schedule a telemedicine appointment with your physician and share your concerns about getting a mammogram during the pandemic. Your physician can advise you on the best time to get your mammogram.

By putting a mammogram on hold during the pandemic, women risk the opportunity to detect breast cancer in its earlier stages, when its most treatable."

Truth No. 2: Breast self-exams should be done in addition to mammograms – not as an alternative for mammograms.

The American Cancer Society reports that breast self-exams are beneficial for women who are familiar with how their breasts normally look and feel but should never be considered a replacement for a mammogram. Mammograms can detect changes in a woman’s breast often before there are physical signs or symptoms.

Truth No. 3: Some forms of breast cancer treatment can weaken your immune system but having breast cancer does not automatically mean you have a higher risk of having serious complications from COVID-19.

According to a special report from BreastCancer.org, some breast cancer treatments can weaken the immune system which, in turn, may increase risk for complications from COVID-19. A number of factors determine risk, including age and pre-existing medical conditions prior to breast cancer diagnosis. Patients should discuss their unique risk with their physician.

Truth No. 4: In Texas in 2020, an estimated 18,478 new cases of female and male breast cancer are expected, with 3,288 deaths.

Early detection through regular mammograms remains the single most effective way for fighting breast cancer. Steady declines in mortality among women since 1989 have been attributed to a combination of early detection and improvements in treatment.

The fight against breast cancer doesn’t stop – even during a pandemic. Healthcare providers are focused on safety and implementing comprehensive new protocols to safely conduct screenings during COVID-19. Reach out to your physician today to discuss the right time to schedule your mammogram and encourage your loved ones to do the same. Together, we can fight breast cancer.

For upcoming webinars visit www.TexasOncologyFoundation.org.