Utah women urged not to put off mammograms during pandemic

Posted at 4:17 PM, Jan 05, 2021
and last updated 2021-01-05 18:34:52-05

SALT LAKE CITY — Doctors in Utah are urging female residents to follow through on cancer screenings this year, especially mammograms, despite the ongoing pandemic.

The Huntsman Cancer Institute says many medical appointments were postponed when the pandemic began in spring 2021 as the coronavirus surged across the world.

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But now that medical facilities are safe and secure, doctors say there is no longer a reason to put off important tests.

"A delay of a few weeks to a few months is not a big issue and has few negative effects, but delaying until the pandemic is over is a bigger risk." said Phoebe Freer, MD, a radiologist at HCI.

Freer says there has been a drop in breast cancer cases diagnosed during the pandemic, but it's only a mirage as the number of mammograms has also dropped.

Delaying tests because of COVID-19 fears could only lead to more problems down the road.

"Those cancers, if they sit for another year, will eventually present at a more aggressive stage than they would have with earlier detection. We want women to know it is important to get your mammogram." said Freer.

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Women over 40 are advised to get a mammogram each year as the test reduces the risk of dying from breast cancer by nearly half, HCI reports.

"Cancer still happens regardless of a pandemic, and I think all of our health care facilities are doing a phenomenal job screening people for symptoms," said Jessica Rivera, a breast cancer patient at HCI.