Covid Scare Keeping Women from Mammograms

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the month when everyone dons pink to show their solidarity with women who have been diagnosed with the disease.

In normal years a mammogram is a normal part of the annual health care routine of most women, especially those over 40. Women at high risk who have had a close relative diagnosed with breast cancer should discuss starting sooner. Covid 19 has upended routine practices, though.

“We are seeing a shocking decrease,” says Dr. Jessica Jones, an oncology specialist with UT Physicians and McGovern Medical School at UTHealth. “The decrease is close to 86% in some locations.”

Dr. Jones stresses that to address the concern clinics are following strict CDC guidelines and are adhering to all protocols to ensure patient safety, and are adding comforting touches like warmed robes for women to feel especially pampered. “Where you go to get your mammogram does matter,” Dr. Jones says. “At Memorial Hermann we have dedicated breast radiologists that read every single mammogram.”

Breast cancer screenings are covered by health insurance as a preventive service for women after age 40. In Texas, since 2019 all commercial insurance providers cover digital breast tomosynthesis (DBT) at no additional cost (3-D mammogram).

Expect to go through temperature checks or any other screenings your provider may require. Masks are of course required.

The five year survival rate for a breast cancer diagnosis if caught early, which is only possible with mammograms, is 99%.

“Get your mammogram,” Dr. Jones advises all women.

photo: Getty Images

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