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2020 showed a decrease in cervical and breast cancer screenings

Published: Jul. 28, 2021 at 5:42 PM MDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KEVN) - The CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Program reported a decline of 87% for breast cancer screenings and 84% for cervical cancer screening during the month of April 2020 compared to the previous 5-year averages for the same month.

“With Monument Health, we decided to kind of limit our exposure to our patients, so we did decrease the amount of screening available at that time. So, we did definitely see a decrease in numbers at that time and that was kind of on the basis of CDC recommendation,” said Lead Interpreting Physician for Monument Health and Dakota Radiology Mammography Services, Dr. Joel Brink.

Site closures, temporary suspension of screenings, stay-at-home orders, and hesitancy to visit clinic settings during the start of the pandemic all contribute to the downward trend.

“So, there were a number of factors that probably contributed to that decline that was observed,” said the CDC’s Epidemiologist for Cancer Prevention and Control, Dr. Amy DeGroff

But the appointments are important. Screenings for both breast and cervical cancer are imperative to a female’s health.

For example, the vast majority of breast cancer is found during screening because not all breast cancer has a lump and is found incidentally during the screening process.

“If we find breast cancer early, the survival rate is very high. People go on to have very long lives and are able to enjoy it with minimal treatment,” said Brink.

Later-stage cancers involve more aggressive treatment and could affect the quality of life, which is why booking the 10-15 minute screenings is important.

“What we don’t want to see of course is delays, long delays in screening that may lead to later diagnosis and greater mortality from breast or cervical cancer,” said DeGroff.

Although the numbers were down, new data may show screenings are headed back up.

“We will hope that in the newer data that we just received will continue to see that trend, but we don’t have data to report on that at this point,” said DeGroff.

Already, Brink said Dakota Radiology has experienced that increase.

“Luckily, we actually we’re able to see a lot of patients come back in pretty quickly after that once we got through those initial months of April,” said Brink.

Women in their 40s should are encouraged to begin having an annual breast screening while women should begin cervical cancer screenings at age 21.

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