Fewer women getting mammograms

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 4:19 PM PDT
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RENO, Nev. (KOLO) - Angie Taylor walks to our interview wearing a plastic face shield. It is to protect herself from COVID transmission. Three years ago, she learned a hard lesson about not protecting herself against breast cancer.

She skipped her annual mammogram where doctors discovered stage two breast cancer.

“Took a year off work,” says Taylor. “It was difficult. It was difficult. The most difficult time of my life,” she says.

Taylor wants her story to be a warning to those women who are skipping this year’s mammogram.

COVID has many women worried about contracting COVID during their exam. Taylor says it’s a legitimate concern. But women need to weigh their relative risks she says.

“I am not trying to downplay COVID by any means,” she says. “It is very serious. But when you are diagnosed with breast cancer the odds are not quite the same. The reality of it is, you go get it checked, you can be on the good side of both of them,” says Taylor.

“We don’t want patients to wait to have symptoms,” says Dr. Vijay Sekhon, a radiologist with Reno Diagnostic Center. “Like a palatable lump or skin changes. Those are often more advanced cancers. We want people to come in much earlier than that. And I feel that is where we can really help,” says Dr. Sekhon.

Dr Sekhon says recent studies show patients who have skipped not only a mammogram, but other cancer screenings could mean 10,000 to 100,000 cancer deaths down the road. Many of those deaths could be avoided as screenings like mammogram can find cancer in early and treatable stages.

Taylor adds for women who want to skip the annual exam; if not for themselves, think about others.

“The big deal is putting your family through that,” says Taylor. “If you don’t do it for yourself, do it for your family. And your family is concerned, and they are crying people are praying all over. All because you blew it off for a year. It is unhealthy. It doesn’t make any sense. We know better, And it is selfish. It is selfish when you really think about it. Cancer doesn’t just get you. It gets everyone around you, who is important to your life,” she says.

Even if an annual exam is missed, that doesn’t mean it can’t be scheduled again. Schedule it this month, during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

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