Healthbeat: Importance of mammograms during COVID

Healthbeat

HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) — Like so many health screenings during the pandemic, mammograms were postponed by many women. It is more than doctors who are urging women to get those screenings back on track.

We know mammograms are commonly used to screen for breast cancer. A state lawmaker is sharing her cautionary tale about how that screening can be a potential life-saver.

The fountain at the State Capitol building has turned pink this month for a purpose. October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, a month this year that has added meaning for Pennsylvania Senate Majority Leader Kim Ward.

“If they catch breast cancer early you have extremely, extremely great opportunity to be just fine,” said Senator Kim Ward the Majority Leader and breast cancer survivor.

Ward should know. Last November, she underwent a mammogram screening that had been delayed by several months.

“Mine was late because of COVID and as soon as I could get there I did and I’m glad that I did,” stated Kim.

It revealed breast cancer still at stage one and a hereditary gene mutation that made other cancers likely. She underwent a double mastectomy this past June and is now enjoying good health thanks to improved mammography technology that’s been around since the 1990s.

“The death rate from breast cancer has dropped by over 40 percent. It’s certainly not a cure for everyone but we’re saving many, many more lives,” explained Daniel Kopans, of the American Academy of Radiology.

But breast cancer detection and diagnosis expert Dr. Daniel Kopans fears the pandemic is still keeping women from getting a mammogram, especially Black women who are 127% more likely to die from breast cancer before age 50 than White women.

“There may be some genetic issues involved in breast cancer in women of color,” said Kopans.

Which is why all the more he urges as many women as possible regardless of race start mammogram screenings at age 40.

“And, in fact, now the American College of Radiology recommends that women at age 30 are assessed for their breast cancer risk and women at higher risk may want to start screening earlier,” stated Kopans.

Any doubts? Just ask the breast cancer survivor who leads the Pennsylvania Senate.

“It’s very, very important that women go and get their mammogram. Get their 3D mammogram. Make sure you get that, you don’t miss your appointments,” said Ward.

Cancer.org says more than 281,000 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year and more than 43,000 will die from it.

To learn more about how going for an annual mammogram can save lives, head over to the ACR American College of Radiology website.

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