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Did you miss your last mammogram?

Women’s Health | October 12, 2021
Mammogram appointment noted in personal calendar
The COVID-19 pandemic caused some to put it off. Experts say, don’t delay! Schedule your mammogram soon.

Does screening for breast cancer really work?

Yes. Mammograms save lives, as proven by decades of research.

But with the COVID-19 pandemic, breast cancer specialists in the Pacific Northwest have seen a “dramatic drop in women getting their routine breast screenings.”

This is serious because women are still at the same risk of developing breast cancer.

“Delays in screening and delays in treating and working up breast concerns is going to lead to the diagnosis of breast cancer at a later stage,” said Sandra Smith, MD, a breast cancer surgeon with PeaceHealth Southwest Medical Center in Vancouver, Washington.

Mammograms are critical to catching breast cancer early, which can significantly improve outcomes. A delay in a cancer diagnosis can lead to a more advanced stage cancer, which may need more aggressive treatment.

Don’t delay. Call today.

If you missed your last mammogram, schedule an exam as soon as you can, with the following in mind:

  • If possible, plan for your mammogram to occur the week AFTER a menstrual period. This will make the exam a little less uncomfortable since breasts can feel more tender the week before or during menstruation.
  • You will be asked if, and when, you had a COVID-19 vaccination to ensure that your last dose occurred at least 14 days prior to your mammogram. In exceptionally few women, the COVID-19 vaccine can cause a temporary and harmless enlargement of the lymph node. If a woman has a mammogram with enlarged lymph nodes on a screening mammogram, she could be called back for additional work up to verify the concern is not a more serious issue. Waiting 14 days after the last vaccine gives the lymph node time to return to normal. Note: No issues with other vaccines, such as flu shots, have been found.
  • The COVID-19 vaccination is encouraged for those medically able to take it, but it is not required for anyone to have a mammogram.
  • Your appointment should take only about 30 minutes from start to finish. It’s a worthwhile investment of your time to check the health of your breasts.

Coming to your appointment

On the day of your appointment:

  • Don’t use deodorant, perfume, lotion or powder, which can show up as white spots on the exam.
  • Wear a two-piece outfit to make it easy for you to change into and out of the robe for the exam.
  • If you’re running a fever or you feel ill, call to reschedule.

When checking in at your appointment:

  • Come by yourself, unless you need the physical assistance of a caregiver.
  • Wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose.
  • Observe social distancing in the waiting area.

“We strongly encourage you to take breast health screening seriously,” said Dr. Smith, “Get your mammogram. It does save lives and improve overall outcomes.”

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