<< Back

Why Even COVID-19 Is No Excuse to Delay Your Mammogram

September 29, 2020

October, festooned with pink ribbons to commemorate Breast Cancer Awareness Month, is the time the world focuses attention on this largely curable disease and the value of early detection through mammography. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, however, has meant that many women put off their regular mammogram, the best diagnostic tool in the fight against breast cancer. As most healthcare facilities closed for all but emergency care at the height of the pandemic, many people faced canceled appointments and some have been reluctant to reschedule even once centers reopened. Skipping a regular mammogram, even if you’re considered at low risk for breast cancer, is not advisable as the test can detect the disease one to four years before you might feel a lump in your breast, according to Dr. Niamey Wilson, director of breast surgery, research and quality for the Hartford HealthCare Cancer Institute and breast surgery division lead for the Hartford HealthCare Medical Group. Early detection, she added, gives you about a 20 percent better chance that the breast cancer can be successfully treated. https://youtu.be/xR_z2KmIa7Q The American Society of Breast Surgeons guidelines advise women at average risk of breast cancer to begin annual mammograms at age 40. Those at higher risk due to family history or other contributing factors, start having the tests earlier. “Women between the ages of 40 and 49 have a lower incidence of cancer compared to women 50 and older, but younger women tend to be diagnosed with more aggressive cancers – the cancers that would potentially be missed,” Dr. Wilson said. A noninvasive test, the mammogram is an X-ray in which tissue in both breasts is scanned for signs of cancer. More advanced, three-dimensional tomosynthesis equipment offers an even more precise look at the breast, scanning through even the densest tissue to deliver radiologists hundreds of images to examine. https://youtu.be/I0fSw1WxZfA If you need to come in for a mammogram, your safety is a priority at Hartford HealthCare. We have implemented a variety of protocols designed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, such as:

  • Screening all employees for temperature, a telling sign of the virus, when they report to work each day.
  • Requiring all people in our facilities – including staff – to wear masks.
  • Limiting visitation.
  • Cleaning and disinfecting facilities according to an enhanced and extensive schedule and using highly effective, environmentally responsible cleaning supplies.
The pandemic isn’t over, but Hartford HealthCare teams have adopted continued and enhanced safety practices to keep facilities clean and safe. Mammography testing locations, as well as other services, have been reopened cautiously, carefully and safely, so breast health experts say it’s time to reschedule your exam.