- It is safe to get a mammogram during COVID.
- Delaying your mammogram during COVID is dangerous.
- Ezra Scan centers and partner facilities have precautions in place to ensure your safety.
For months or even a year, you’ve been putting off making your mammogram appointment because you wonder if it’s safe to get a mammogram during COVID. The quick answer is yes. With a few exceptions, which we’ll discuss shortly, it’s time to reschedule your breast cancer screening.
How COVID changed the way mammogram screening is viewed.
As the first wave of COVID spread across the United States in March 2020, healthcare as we knew it rapidly changed. Waiting rooms in outpatient imaging centers all over the country emptied as hospital emergency rooms filled. As priorities shifted, clinics canceled most elective procedures, including routine screenings. And not just in the United States but globally as well. Even after clinics safely reopened, uncertainty and anxiety may have kept you from rescheduling right away.
But here’s the thing: Breast cancer takes a backseat to nothing.
Breast cancer doesn’t care about a pandemic. It doesn’t care if clinics are closed. Like all diseases, cancer is opportunistic. To beat it, you have to take away its opportunity to spread. That means early detection. And that means prioritizing cancer screening.
The American Cancer Society recommends that all women in the United States at average risk of developing breast cancer who are over 40 have a yearly mammogram, and women 55 and over have a mammogram every two years.
Women with high-risk breast cancer genes, family history of breast cancer, and symptoms of breast disease should get annual mammograms plus a breast MRI. Research shows that for these women, delayed screenings may mean a more advanced breast cancer when found.
An early report from Italy touts a significant increase in advanced breast cancer cases after only a two-month pandemic-related moratorium on routine screening tests. Experts in the United States are also reporting an increase in advanced breast cancer diagnoses as pandemic conditions improve and screenings resume.
It’s easy to put off rescheduling your appointment but to do so means you’re giving up the advantage of early detection. Breast cancer caught at the earliest stage is smaller, hasn’t spread, and is easier to treat.
Is Ezra open for mammograms during COVID?
Ezra resumed screenings in May 2020. Understanding the importance of screening to women’s health, Ezra was among the earliest imaging centers to resume normal operations. Because Ezra’s mission is prevention, we’re taking all the steps to help keep you safe while delivering the uncompromising and life-saving services you deserve.
Enhanced cleaning and disinfecting.
Cleaning and disinfecting are critical for preventing infections. Using EPA and OSHA-approved disinfectants, our well-trained team cleans and disinfects all equipment and high-contact surfaces before and after each scan.
Ezra facility staff wear OSHA-approved masks and use other personal protective equipment (PPE). You’ll also wear an MRI-safe mask Ezra provides.
Ezra eliminates unnecessary contact and practices social distancing in waiting rooms and other common areas.
Ezra facility staff, patients, and visitors have COVID symptom screenings and wellness checks before care.
Breast cancer screening is key to early detection.
The two most important strategies for beating breast cancer are discovering it early and treating it fast. Primary breast cancer is small and hasn’t spread, making it easier to manage.
Scheduling regular screening tests is the most reliable way to detect cancer early so your treatment plan can be as effective as possible.
Your monthly self-breast exam is a key way to protect your wellbeing. Learning how to perform such exams helps you understand a baseline for your breast health. That means you can better identify the changes in breast tissue that may signal a problem. However, a self-breast exam is less likely to catch pre- and early-stage cancer than a mammogram.
A mammogram is an X-ray of your breast. It helps locate cancers you can’t feel with your hands during normal breast exams. The American Cancer Society recommends all women over 40 get an annual mammogram. You may need a mammogram before 40 if you have a greater risk of breast cancer, have concerns, or a family history of breast cancer.
During the scan, your breasts will be placed on a cool plate and slowly compressed. It’s normal to feel discomfort, but you shouldn’t feel pain. The mammogram itself usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes. An Ezra radiologist will review your images and contact you with your results.
What is a 3D mammogram and is it safe during COVID?
Yes. In 2011, the FDA approved a new technique called 3D mammography or digital breast tomosynthesis (TOMO). Regarding COVID, 3D mammograms are no more risky than regular mammograms or even full-body scans.
Unlike a regular mammogram, which creates two views of each breast, a 3D mammogram creates multiple images as an X-ray beam moves in an arch across your breast. More image data gives radiologists the best chance to spot cancer.
Studies show that 3D mammography finds cancer earlier and reduces unnecessary biopsies.
Surprisingly few imaging centers offer 3D mammograms, though it is rapidly becoming the standard of care for breast cancer care and screening.
The Ezra 3D Mammogram uses the same low-dose X-ray to capture up to 300 images of your breasts. This is especially helpful if you are over 65 or have dense breast tissue.
In the days and weeks after getting your COVID-19 vaccine, your body is hard at work making antibodies and building immunity.
As a result, you may experience swollen lymph nodes. This is completely normal and expected. However, studies show it may hinder the accuracy of breast imaging.
For this reason, radiologists recommend waiting 4-6 weeks after your final vaccination before having a mammogram.
Don’t wait to protect your health.
Diagnosing breast cancer earlier means less therapy, and more lives saved. More than one-third of women who are eligible for annual mammogram screenings never follow through because of fear or inconvenience.
During COVID, you may have postponed care over safety concerns. But now, it’s time to get back on track and Ezra makes it easy.
Remember, the facility staff practice strict hygiene, physical distancing, masking, and extensive cleaning to make sure everyone stays safe. If you think you may have COVID, please contact us before your exam and seek testing right away.