Healthcast: Decline in mammograms

Healthcast

(HEALTHCAST)— Breast imaging centers have started mammograms once again, but some medical facilities say fewer patients are willing to go in during the pandemic.

Doctors worry that breast cancer will go undetected in more women this year.

“We have a long list of patients that have been deferred so we are going back and calling those patients and we do have patients who do want to come in,” Director of Breast Cancer Imaging at Sutter Health, Dr. Miyuki Murphy said.

Early numbers show that one-third of all patients who need a mammogram are refusing to schedule appointments because of concerns of catching COVID at the doctors office.

“Obviously this whole COVID crisis has been really scary for everyone. A lot of people have been holed up in their house for all of this time. So it can be very scary to leave your house for any reason but rest assured here… We have put a whole team together to figure out what is the best way to image people safely,” Dr. Murphy said.

We got a look inside cancer imagining centers in the Sacramento region to see the new safety procedures in palace.

Exam rooms including dressing rooms and lockers and are being disinfected non-stop, and stickers are being left behind to let patients know it’s a clean space.

“We are doing a lot of cleaning between every patient….we are doing temperature checks on everyone to make sure no one is coming in with a fever. We are giving a mask to everyone,” Murphy said.

Appointments are also being spread out… To limit the amount of patients coming in at one time.

For patients like Laurie Deuschel it’s her first time ever getting a mammogram.

“My mom had breast cancer a couple of years ago… I just found out. It doesn’t run in our family so i decided i better get it done,” Deuschel said.

“It worries me very much that people would put it off too long because again mammography is how we find all the early breast cancers and for those that are found early on a mammogram they have almost a 99 percent cure rate,” Murphy said. “So we definitely want to go back to finding all of those cancers.”

Doctors said please make this screening a priority.

“It is not as uncomfortable as they might think. It only takes a few seconds to do each image. We do a set of four images. It’s really not bad,” Murphy said.

The American College of Radiology recommends that all women over the age 40 get mammograms once a year.

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