What You Need to Know About Getting a Mammogram During COVID-19May 7, 2020 - Katie McCallum
Right now, we're focused on "flattening the curve" and keeping ourselves and loved ones safe from COVID-19, which means staying committed to preventing the spread of this new virus.
But, as we begin to settle into our "new normal" — knowing that the new coronavirus will be with us for some time — we should start thinking about our overall health and wellness again. For women over the age of 40, this includes your annual mammogram.
"Many of us spent the last two months putting our personal health care on hold, but now it's time to bring our whole health back into focus," says Dr. Luz Venta, Medical Director of Houston Methodist Breast Care Centers. "Early detection of breast cancer with annual mammography remains our most powerful tool in the fight against breast cancer in women."
Here are three things Dr. Venta would like women to know about getting their annual mammogram in the time of COVID-19.
We're offering routine screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms
"In anticipation of a large influx of COVID-19 patients and to follow the orders of our governor, many procedures, including mammograms, were postponed early on during the outbreak," explains Dr. Venta. "Now that our COVID-19 patient population has stabilized and statewide restrictions have been lifted, we're resuming care and offering both routine screening mammograms and diagnostic mammograms."
As recommended by the American College of Radiology, a screening mammogram is recommended annually for women starting at age 40. This type of mammogram is a yearly, routine check for breast cancer for women who have no symptoms or lumps.
A diagnostic mammogram is different from a screening mammogram. It's used if palpable lumps are felt or other clinical symptoms appear. Your doctor will help you understand which is right for you.
We're taking every precaution to keep you safe
"As we begin to turn our full breadth of mammogram services back on, we'll be doing so slowly and with an abundance of caution," Dr. Venta explains. "As always, we're putting patient safety above all else."
Our Breast Care Centers are taking every precaution to keep you safe, including:
- Requiring all patients, visitors and employees to wear masks
- Screening patients and employees upon arrival to our care centers
- Ensuring only those without COVID-19 symptoms are seen in the office
- Practicing social distancing in our waiting rooms
- Increasing housekeeping and vigilance in our disinfection protocols
Early detection of breast cancer starts with an annual mammogram
Identifying breast cancer early is an incredibly important tool, as we know that early detection improves a woman's overall prognosis and often results in less aggressive treatment options.
"All women will likely face a diagnosis of breast cancer in herself or a loved one at some point in her life," says Dr. Venta.
Making time for a mammogram every year is an important part of maintaining your overall wellness and protecting yourself from breast cancer.
"We at Houston Methodist Breast Care Centers are pleased to offer the best technology to our patients, such as 3D mammograms, which help us evaluate dense breast tissue. In addition, we offer molecular breast imaging, dedicated breast ultrasound, breast MRI and outpatient image-guided breast biopsy," Dr. Venta adds. "We wish you stay well and visit us soon. We look forward to partnering with you in keeping your health care a priority."
This article was updated on June 22, 2020 to reflect the current state of the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.