Don’t delay your mammogram

Posted on 30 September 2020

Your best defence against breast cancer is to detect it early. Don’t delay your routine mammogram due to Covid-19 fears.

At the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, many patients deviated from their annual or bi-annual cancer screening programmes due to concerns about contracting or transmitting the virus. Doctors urge you not to delay any longer. As Dr Lee-Ann Jones, a clinical and radiation oncologist who consults patients from Mediclinic Plettenberg Bay, Mediclinic Geneva, Mediclinic Klein Karoo and Mediclinic George says, ‘despite concerns about Covid-19, our focus to reduce the global cancer burden on health systems and communities must not waver. We have to remain diligent in the prevention, cure, care and management of the disease.’

Breast cancer affects an estimated one in eight women globally during their lifetime, and your best defence is to detect it early – when it’s small, has not spread and is easier to treat. There are three ways to diagnose breast cancer:

  1. Clinical histology (the study of cells under a microscope).
  2. Imaging (an ultrasound, MRI or mammogram).
  3. Biopsy

‘Remember, early diagnosis translates into a better outcome for the patient – less surgery, less chemotherapy and better survival rates,’ says Dr Rika Pienaar, an oncologist at Mediclinic Panorama and Cancercare Panorama Oncology Centre, located in the same medical precinct. The mammogram screenings use radiology to scan the breast for irregular tissue and is effective at detecting early signs of cancer. In perfect conditions, where dense breast tissue is not obscuring abnormalities, mammograms can be up to 100% accurate. Results are then compared to those from previous years to note any changes.

Research shows that women who have regular mammograms are more likely to have breast cancer detected early, less likely to need aggressive treatment, and have a lower mortality rate from breast cancer.

Dr Annalien Greeff, a general practitioner at Mediclinic Hermanus, recommends that women with any history of breast cancer start screenings at age 30, while those with no history can start having annual mammograms from age 40. Thermal imaging, or thermography, is another non-invasive way of detecting irregular breast tissue.

Rest assured all Mediclinic staff have been trained in infection prevention and control and precautions to prevent the spread of Covid-19 and other infections. They’re also equipped with the required personal protective equipment (PPE) to protect all against infection. Mediclinic has also implemented extra cleaning rounds and all areas are cleaned thoroughly in between patients.

Even if you’re not due for a mammogram, remain aware of how your breasts normally look and feel, do regular self-examinations and report any changes to your doctor immediately.


Published in Cancer

In the interest of our patients, in accordance with SA law and our commitment to expertise, Mediclinic cannot subscribe to the practice of online diagnosis. Please consult a medical professional for specific medical advice. If you have any major concerns, please see your doctor for an assessment. If you have any cause for concern, your GP will be able to direct you to the appropriate specialists.

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