Healthbeat: National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day

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WILKES-BARRE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Tuesday is National Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day which brings attention to the most advanced stage of breast cancer.

More than a quarter million women in the United States are diagnosed with this cancer which spreads to all parts of the body.

While research continues to try to find a cure for metastatic breast cancer, the lack of one only underscores the importance for preventative measures like mammograms. Yet, what’s troubling this year? The number of breast cancer screenings has dramatically declined.

Mammography is credited with reducing breast cancer deaths in the U.S. by 40% since 1990. Unfortunately, the pandemic has provided many women an excuse to skip the screening.

“Breast cancer doesn’t stop in the setting of COVID,” says Jessica Leung, MD, President of Society of Breast Imaging.

The Society of Breast Imaging wants to assure women that precautions are in place at radiation sites. The CDC, the American College of Radiology and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services each issued guidelines.

“Assuming that you’re an average woman who is not in any particular risk factor group in terms of being immunocompromised, it is safe,” says Leung.

Women starting at age 40 are urged to get a mammogram each year without fail.

“The breast cancer rates for women in their 40s is almost as high as women in their 50s, so it really makes sense to start at 40 because we can make the most impact and save the most lives.”

Breast cancer is usually present in the body for years before it can be detected.

Dr. Leung points to studies which reveal troubling findings for women skipping their mammograms this year.

“As many as 35,000 breast cancer diagnoses may be delayed, and also studies have shown that as many as 5,200 additional deaths may result because of this pause in screening in the next decade.”

Dr. Leung admits that mammography is not always perfect and at times results in false positives or false negatives, the latter especially true for women with dense breast tissue.

“So while there are false negatives it is still definitely worth doing in order to save lives.”

To learn more about the importance of mammograms and other breast cancer preventative measures, Click Here.

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