LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Some women are postponing their annual health screenings, including mammograms for fear of COVID.
But even skipping one year can allow aggressive cancer to go unchecked. Breast cancer is one of the most preventable cancers as long as it’s caught early. But as we enter another year of the pandemic, health experts warn women not to delay getting their mammogram.
Mortality rates have been cut by 30% through these annual screenings. If women wait, it could be an opportunity missed.
“The concern is as women go back to screening, they’re going to find later stage breast cancer and we’re going to have a lower survival rate,” said Cassie Goodman, Nevada Cancer Coalition.
Goodman is the early detections manager for the Nevada Cancer Coalition. She says nearly 70% of Nevadans are getting an annual mammogram which is about the national average but there is concern that number could drop.
“Nevada had an increase in screening mammograms from 2018 to 2020 however it doesn’t show the full impact of the pandemic yet,” Goodman said.
Beyond COVID, about one-third of women face some sort of barrier preventing mammograms. Losing a job and health insurance is a big challenge. There are also other obstacles.
“Transportation is a big one that we see,” Goodman said. “We have a lot of rural and frontier communities in Nevada and they don’t have all have imaging facilities where they are.”
That’s why the Mammovan is key. It crisscrosses the state bringing screenings into communities. There are also a number of low-cost options available to women too.
Another thing to keep in mind, just because you don’t have a family history of breast cancer doesn’t mean you should forgo your mammogram. The majority of breast cancers, 85%, are found in women who *don’t have a family history.