HUNTSVILLE, Ala. – October is Breast Cancer Awareness month, an annual campaign to educate people about the impact of the disease.
According to local health experts, many people put preventative check-ups at the doctor to the wayside during the beginning of the pandemic.
Mammograms and screening for breast cancer begin at age 40 for women with average risk. According to Radiologist and Director of Huntsville and Madison Hospital Breast Centers, Dr. Libby Shadinger, 1 in 8 of women are considered at average risk for breast cancer.
“Initially it greatly impacted us,” said Shadinger. “In spring 2020, by the governor’s mandate, all screening mammography ceased for around six weeks, so routine screening mammography did not happen.”
“We still saw patients that had a problem, those that had a breast cancer diagnosis or thought they had breast cancer, but the large number of patients that we would normally see just for routine, we were not seeing.”
Shadinger explained that life did not stop during the pandemic and cancer checks are still just as important as ever. She said 12.5% of women will get breast cancer in their lifetime.
“Overall, I’m afraid that it will be a negative impact. They’ve done some studies showing that it’s possible an additional 10,000 women will die of breast cancer because of the failure to screen as we normally do,” she said.
The Breast Center at Huntsville Hospital’s Women’s Building is starting to get busier as people realize it’s been too long between appointments.
“We still have people with a little bit of fear,” Shadinger said. “I think people have lost the fear of being around each other but there is a fear of us finding something now because we’ve been through a lot with people in their family, with illness, so they don’t want that one more piece of bad news.”
Dr. Shadinger said there are available appointments for screenings and mammograms so if you are in need of one, don’t wait to book.