Delayed screenings during the pandemic lead to recent increase in cancer diagnosis

Published: Nov. 24, 2021 at 6:45 PM EST
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TOLEDO, Ohio (WTVG) - It is a case of pandemic postponement.

Women who have put off their yearly mammograms because they didn’t want to go to a medical facility during COVID are leading to higher numbers of women diagnosed with breast cancer, doctors say.

Not because there are more cases, but because these women are finally getting tested.

Jennifer Smith is almost halfway through her chemotherapy treatment for stage 3 breast cancer after being diagnosed this fall.

She admits she had put off her mammogram screening during the pandemic. “It seemed like all the wellness stuff just got pushed to the side. You’re afraid to go in because there are sick people everywhere you don’t know who has COVID so you just kind of put it off.”

Mercy Health Nauman Shahid MD is an oncologist. He says at the height of the pandemic mammograms dropped down to 1% of what they usually are. But they rebounded back 90% during the Summer of 2020. They are however still catching up with women’s screening. “We still do not have women who have their mammograms done last year we’re trying to reach out to them and schedule their mammograms.”

On the upside, the diagnosed cases are not generally more severe. However, cancer treatment centers like Mercy Health Cancer Center in Perrysburg are packed with patients. Dr. Shahid says “Cancer doesn’t wait for anyone. So we are doing what we have to do.”

Jennifer says she hopes by sharing her experience with other women they will be inspired to catch up with their screenings. “It could have been smaller and I would have had a less invasive surgery down the line if I maybe would have gotten in a little bit sooner.”

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