Health Team

Study: More than 50% of women put off mammograms during COVID-19

Posted October 30, 2020 6:37 a.m. EDT
Updated October 30, 2020 6:56 a.m. EDT

An alarming number of women are putting off recommended breast cancer screenings due to COVID-19 concerns.

Pam Walker, 35, has a history of breast cancer in her family. Her mom was only 53 when breast cancer took her life. Last year, it also took her older sister Karen.

"It spread to multiple places across her body -- and she was gone within a year," Walker said.

Walker and a close friend decided to get screened.

50% of women put off mammograms during COVID-19

"We were both nervous, we were both scared," she said. "I can't even imagine what it's like for somebody now in the COVID-19 environment."

A recent study shows, between March and May, the number of women seeking breast cancer screenings decreased at much as 57% percent. That holds true with UNC Rex Mobile Mammography, which also saw a 50% decrease.

According to director Wendy Avery, many patients and staff members were unsure about safety when the pandemic first began, and a lot of people just weren't showing up.

By September, 93% of patients finally returned for mammograms.

Walker's screening revealed a large but non-cancerous tumor, which was removed. Her friend required extensive treatments for breast cancer but is now doing well.

Both women want others to know ignorance is not bliss.

"You're not going to know unless you go," said Walker who, because of her family history, also got breast MRI imaging.

That lead to more tests that revealed lung cancer. Two lobes of her lungs were removed, and she is now cancer free.

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