Breast cancer and other medical illnesses remain a risk for women – even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, due to concerns about the virus, many women have postponed their annual screening mammograms, increasing their risk of undetected cancer. East Georgia Regional Medical Center is encouraging women who may have delayed their mammograms to schedule the screening now, because when breast cancer is detected early, life-saving treatment can begin immediately.
“When screenings are delayed, diagnosis is delayed, and treatment is delayed,” said Dr. Alan Scott, Chief of Staff at East Georgia Regional Medical Center. “But the best chance for survival of any cancer is early diagnosis and treatment. Women should not be afraid to get a mammogram. Many stringent safety precautions have been put in place in our imaging center to protect everyone from COVID-19, so as a doctor, I’m telling you – if you’ve put off a mammogram, don’t put it off any longer.”
Early Detection Saves Lives
Nearly all breast cancers can be treated successfully if found early. The most effective way to detect breast cancer at an early, treatable stage is to have yearly mammograms. Since mammography became widely used in the 1980s, the U.S. breast cancer death rate in women has dropped 43 percent.
Here in Georgia, female breast cancer was the most frequently occurring cancer site for women in 2017, the most recent year data is available.
The American College of Radiology and Society of Breast Imaging recommend that all women, particularly African American and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, should have a risk assessment at age 30 to see if a screening earlier than age 40 is needed. Women who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer are recommended to be screened with magnetic resonance imaging, an MRI.
For women of average risk, the ACR and SBI recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40, with no upper age limit as long as the woman is in good health. A screening mammogram can help detect breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages.
Safety Measures to Protect Against COVID-19
For the protection of patients and staff, East Georgia Regional Medical Center and Statesboro Imaging Center are pre-screening all patients for any COVID-19 symptoms, limiting appointments to maintain social distancing, requiring staff and patients all wear masks, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces with greater frequency.
Mammograms can be scheduled by calling (912) 764-5656.