Even though COVID-19 put the world on pause, doctors don't want you to press pause when it comes to your health.
“This year, because of the pandemic, we have definitely seen a delay in screening procedures, said Dr. Aurelio Castrellon, a breast medical oncologist at Memorial Regional Hospital.
According to a recent report in The Journal of the American Medical Association, from March to April of 2020, breast cancer cases were significantly down, but Dr. Castrellon believes that's because he's seen less women coming in for breast cancer screenings as a result of the pandemic.
“I still hear of patients that have delayed their mammograms or breast ultrasounds this year and I don’t really see a reason to continue to do that," Dr. Castrellon said.
Breast cancer screenings were considered an elective procedure during the height of COVID-19, and as a result, Dr. Castrellon says many appointments were pushed back or even canceled.
“People tend to delay that and we have to remember that many times, breast cancer could be hiding in the breast and not be palpable. People can run into the circumstances that if they had come to get diagnosed three or four months before, could have had a big impact on their outcome," said Dr. Castrellon.
The staff at the women's imaging center at Memorial Regional Hospital South have also made changes to ensure that the appointment process is as safe as possible. They are sanitizing and wiping down all the equipment, wearing personal protective gear and keeping six feet of distance between all seats. They've also expanded their hours so they can have less patients in the waiting room.
As October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, doctors say early detection is key with these exams.
“They have to continue to be performed because they have shown to save lives. Make the necessary arrangements with your primary care physician, with referrals, contact your breast imaging center in the community and get tested," said Dr. Castrellon.
For women that do not have a family history of breast cancer, doctors recommend that you schedule your annual mammogram after turning 40.