As we learn every day, the repercussions of COVID-19 have been wide-ranging and often surprising. One troubling outcome of the pandemic has been that many Americans have been wary of scheduling routine medical appointments. According to the Journal of the National Cancer Institute, more than one-third of us skipped routine cancer screenings over the last 18 months and mammograms dropped by as much as 80% during certain times. The drop in the examination rate has been even worse for older, low-income women. The tragic result is that medical experts project that there will be an additional 2,487 deaths from breast cancer by 2030.
The projections are especially troubling because “many breast cancers do not present with symptoms — no masses, no pain, no skin changes,” says Serena Wong, an oncologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center. On the cancer center’s website she adds that “[w]e know that mammograms save lives. The earlier we can detect and treat a breast cancer, the more likely our treatments are to be effective and the higher the likelihood of cure.” If your health care providers catch breast cancer early, you have an extremely great opportunity to be just fine. So, get that mammogram! (Please.)
I am very proud of my daughter, Kate Nash, who ran in the Chicago marathon to raise money for the Lynn Sage Breast Cancer Foundation, which funds research and medical education to prevent breast cancer and improve treatment and survivorship for individuals diagnosed with breast cancer. Investments are directed locally within the Chicago area, but drive impact globally.