October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and the AdventHealth Central Florida hospital system is urging women who delayed checkups due to the COVID-19 pandemic to get their annual breast cancer screening.
“Many patients chose to avoid their annual screenings in 2020, as well as 2021, out of concern of increasing their exposure risk,” Dr. Lisa Minton said. “We’re anticipating up to 10,000 potentially unnecessary deaths from breast cancer in the next five to seven years just because of the missed screenings.”
Minton is a surgeon who specializes in breast cancer treatment.
For women with no history of breast cancer in their family, Minton recommended beginning annual screenings at age 40. For women with a history of breast cancer in their family, she recommended beginning screening 10 years before the youngest family member was diagnosed with breast cancer.
When it comes to breast cancer, like all cancers, the earlier the detection the better, Minton said.
Women going through breast cancer treatment, she added, should also seriously consider vaccination for COVID-19.
“Developing an active COVID infection during such treatment may be much more seriously manifested in you,” Minton said. “But what we usually recommend is delaying any type of breast imaging for six to eight weeks minimum following a COVID vaccination.”
This is because, she explained, immune response to COVID-19 vaccination may result in inflamed lymph nodes, which could trigger false positive cancer screenings.
Cancer treatments can suppress the immune system, so any benefit to the immune system in combating COVID-19 — and other potential infections — is important, Minton said.
AdventHealth is offering reduced-cost breast cancer screenings through the month of October: For women with no health insurance, mammograms cost $30, and no primary physician appointment or referral is required for women age 40 or older.
For more information, visit AdventHealth’s website HERE or call 407-303-2273.