Like so much of life that was put on hold due to the pandemic, breast cancer screenings also came to a halt. While state regulations mandated a pause for non-urgent exams at imaging centers from April through June of 2020 only, this caused significant delays for many women and a challenge to facilities as they tried to accommodate the backlog once exams could be resumed.
Whether patients were nervous about being in a public office or there were competing priorities because of Covid-19, Windsong Radiology reported that thousands of women did not get screened in the past year and a half who would have normally.
According to the U.S. National Cancer Institute, later-stage cancer diagnoses are expected as a result of the pandemic. The conservative estimate indicates there will be 10,000 more deaths from both colon and breast cancer within the next 10 years due to delays in screening and treatment.
“We have noticed some tumors we’re detecting are a little bit bigger compared to the average size we were seeing two years ago,” said Dr. Anna Chen, Director of Women’s Imaging and a radiologist at Windsong. “And we all know that early detection of breast cancer, when it is smaller and more easily treated, means a better prognosis and is critical for saving lives.”
For their part, Windsong has accommodated more patients by adding physicians, keeping evening and Saturday hours, and continuing to offer its Mobile Mammography service – which has screened roughly 9,000 people remotely since 2018. They have also implemented a reduction in same-day results in some offices, enabling physicians to read more cases and minimize screening delays. Results are instead available within 24 hours through the patient portal. The policy only applies to routine screenings; patients who are having issues will still get same-day results.
If you are overdue for a mammogram, call your doctor. Most are providing scripts to ensure that breast cancer screening is not further delayed. Windsong works closely with the Cancer Services Program, which is designed to assist women who are underinsured and uninsured.
For more information or to make an appointment: 716-631-2500; windsongwny.com.
- Women should be screened beginning at age 40 and every year after 1 in 8 women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime
- When breast cancer is detected early, the five year survival rate is almost 100%.
- If family history, a formal genetic screening assessment is recommended around age 25
- 75% of cases have no genetic pre-disposition
- Don’t delay screenings more than six weeks following the final Covid vaccine