Doctors warn COVID-delayed mammograms could mean missing early-stage cancer
New research on breast cancer shows concerning trends of COVID-delayed mammogram appointments and a racial gap in treatment.
Doctors say improved research, better treatments and screenings add up to fewer people dying of breast cancer.
“When we look at a mammogram from one year to the next, the technology is good enough that we can see these little changes that can represent early cancers that we're able to detect sometimes at a stage 0,” Dr. Carinne Anderson, of Nuvance Health.
But doctors can't find early, treatable cancer if you don't get checked.
Anderson says the experience of journalist Katie Couric showed how important regular screenings are.
“She did have a delay in screening due to the pandemic. One of the things she's been very vocal about is saying she wished she had this mammogram six months earlier when she was due,” she says.
The National Cancer Institute estimates more than 9.4 million cancer screening tests were put off during COVID, including mammograms.
“And we are seeing a result in later-stage cancers diagnosed,” Anderson says.
New research by the American Cancer Society shows the death rate from breast cancer is 40% higher in Black women versus women from other races.
Officials say one way to address this situation is to improve hospital access and breast cancer screening opportunities for Black women.
For more information on breast cancer research, visit the American Cancer Society's website.