ASHEVILLE, North Carolina – Dr. Rachel McEachearn, a radiologist with Mission/HCA Healthcare in Western North Carolina, has observed a dip of 30% in the reported cases of breast cancer diagnoses to date in Asheville during this time of the pandemic.
However, the sudden decline of breast cancer cases is not a reason to celebrate. With Breast Cancer Awareness Month nearing the calendars, Dr. McEachearn became concerned about the number of women who set aside their annual mammograms. Women avoid going out and fear stepping in testing centers with the COVID-19 pandemic at large.
Karen Chavez, the reporter for the Asheville Citizen Times, was disturbed by these findings. More women are unaware of their current diagnosis because of the threat of the COVID-19 pandemic. It’s like women are playing Russian roulette of the risk of dying of COVID-19 or breast cancer.
Mammograms are covered by insurance for women who are over 40 years, and even for younger ones who have higher risk factors. This privilege given for women to monitor their health responsibly with breast cancer risk should be utilized. 3D mammograms are offered in testing centers, which is quick and relatively painless. This simple test is simple and has a huge potential in saving lives.
Dr. McEachern states that the statistics of one out of eight chance of people getting diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime remains. According to the American Cancer Society, a rise in breast cancer cases has been widespread due to the 3D mammogram’s development. This trend is due to the increase in the number of women tested, which gives a higher detection rate of breast cancer in its early stages.
This upgraded mammogram technology allows early treatment and a higher chance of survival for diagnosed women. 3D mammograms provide a more thorough detail, telling a story rather than the traditional 2D “digital” mammogram that only shows the story’s cover.
The American Cancer Society says that breast cancer is a huge threat as more than 325,000 new cases are expected for 2020, and about 42,000 women could die this year from the disease. Now that women are putting off their annual screening, death cases can also increase.
Leaving breast cancer undiagnosed is just as deadly as the risk of catching COVID-19. Certain precautions can be taken to be protected against the risk of catching a virus. Most testing centers have thorough preventive measures that will keep you safe and feel at ease when you schedule your annual mammogram. Dr. Michael Messino, an oncologist, and the Messino Cancer Center founder, has also advised women with underlying health conditions to talk to their doctors if they are nervous about testing with a mammogram.
Chavez shares her story of getting diagnosed with breast cancer and getting regular treatments to beat it. She now encourages women to take their annual mammograms and be responsible enough, especially with the rise of a pandemic. Women can take care of themselves by wearing proper Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and be responsible enough by bringing a COVID emergency bag for their wipes, hand sanitizer, water bottle, and other useful materials to combat the risk of catching a virus.
Going in other establishments and buildings like grocery stores is riskier than getting tested in sanitized and well-regulated testing centers, so Chaves encourages everyone to continue being tested for breast cancer even with the COVID-19 pandemic. She says that the horrors of breast cancer and its treatments push her not to take a chance of getting undiagnosed again.