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Doctor's warning after COVID-19 delays some women's mammograms

'There's no such thing as a socially distant mammogram'
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Posted at 8:55 PM, Jun 06, 2020
and last updated 2020-06-07 14:27:21-04

RICHMOND, Va. -- Sylvia Brinkley gets her annual mammogram because breast cancer runs in her family. Her grandmother and two aunts all battled it.

But her routine appointment for a mammogram in March got derailed because of the coronavirus.

"They did call me and said that I needed to reschedule like a lot of my appointments and things of that nature and I wanted to set it up til May,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley is like countless other women who had to reschedule their appointment for a mammogram.

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"There's no such thing as a socially distant mammogram,” VCU Health's Director of Breast Imaging Dr. Priti Shah said.

Shah says almost ninety percent of their scheduled mammograms from the end of March through April had to be canceled. However, high risk patients were still able get their mammogram during that time.

Once Gov. Ralph Northam gave the green light for certain medical procedures to start up again, mammogram appointments are filling up.

"Fortunately, our call centers staff had the foresight to reschedule those appointments that have been canceled rather than just leave them canceled,” Dr. Shad said.

Dr. Priti Shah
Dr. Priti Shah

During this pandemic, Dr. Shah says safety measures are in place such as temperature checks when patients arrive along with filling out a patient care questionnaire. There will also be increased cleaning of high touch areas and patients and staff are required to wear masks. Doctors will be wearing shields during screenings..

Dr. Shah says patients worried about COVID-19 should get their mammogram when they feel comfortable, but they say don't wait too long when it comes to finding tumors.

"We just don't know how aggressive they are until we find them and detect them and biopsy them," Dr. Shah said. "So waiting much longer than 3 to 6 months, skipping that mammogram will put us in that higher risk category."

Brinkley admits she skipped her mammogram last year because of a sudden death in her family. That's why it was so important she got one in 2020.

Fortunately, Brinkley got her mammogram just last week.

On the 6th of the month, CBS 6 and VCU Massey Cancer Center remind women to contact their buddy to remind them to conduct a monthly breast self-exam. If it is time, you should also schedule an annual clinical breast exam and mammogram, which are key to early detection.