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Breast Cancer Screenings During the COVID-19 Pandemic: Essential—and Safe

Many women have been faced with the decision of whether to skip or postpone routine mammograms during the current pandemic to avoid potential exposure to the coronavirus. It is important to know that when it comes to breast cancer screenings, staying home may actually be the bigger risk.

Breast cancer is one of the most treatable forms of cancer when caught early. And, screening tests play an integral role—detecting cancerous or even precancerous tissue in women with no other symptoms. In short, mammograms and other diagnostic techniques for breast cancer save lives—and it’s crucial to get them on time.

Delaying your screening by a month or two is likely OK, but you shouldn’t put the test off indefinitely, experts say. If you canceled a mammogram or avoided scheduling one this spring, get an appointment on the books now. If you’re due for a mammogram soon, you should still schedule it.

And don’t worry—you don’t need to wait months for an open slot. “We’re absolutely able to schedule women for both screenings and diagnostic tests right now,” said Catherine Tuite, MD, a breast radiologist at Fox Chase Cancer Center.

How we’re protecting our patients

Fox Chase is committed to keeping COVID-19 out of our center and providing the safest possible breast cancer screening experience for our patients. We’re taking strong protective actions, including:

We understand that simply seeing a list of safety measures might not be enough to make you feel comfortable. “If you want to get screened but are feeling anxious, give us a call so we can talk through your concerns,” Tuite said. You can also talk to your primary care provider or gynecologist to weigh the risks and benefits of screening now or delaying a little longer.

Scheduling your breast cancer screening

Now and always, Fox Chase offers state-of-the-art screening technology to catch more breast cancers early, when they’re often highly treatable. A radiologist physician specializing in breast cancer will review your test results, and you can request to have the results read before you head home. “That way if you need any additional imaging or tests, we can do them the same day,” Tuite said.

If you’re not sure whether you need to be screened for breast cancer, talk with your primary care provider. Women of average risk should have annual mammograms beginning at age 45, with the option to start at age 40 if desired. High-risk women may need to begin screening sooner or get screened more often. At age 55, you can continue getting mammograms annually or switch to every other year.

Learn more about breast cancer screening at Fox Chase Cancer Center.