COVID-19 has canceled quite a few things this year, but cancer is not one of them.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and even during the pandemic, health care providers explain that routine health checks should still be a priority.
According to Radiologist and Breast Imaging Specialist Dr. Raman Muhar, "Up to 90% of breast cancers are detected by mammography... and that is usually even before any symptoms appear."
She goes on to explain that the "earlier you can detect that cancer, the better survival rate you have, which can be up to 98%. "
According to Dignity Health, breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of death for women in the United States.
Mammogram screening participant, Aibhlin Keala, recognizes the importance in this month stating, "Every other day we are so busy, and we can get very caught up and not keep our sights on these important things."
One concern that has emerged is entering hospitals and medical facilities to get checked during COVID-19. However, health care professionals say that should not deter people from getting their annual exams and that goes for other routine checkups too.
Dr. Muhar states that at French Hospital in San Luis Obispo they are "taking proper precautions to ensure our patients are safe. That's why we do encourage you to come in for your routine screens that include mammograms and colonoscopies."
San Luis Obispo County resident Darlene Bossu explained that she got a breast exam three months ago and that she felt "it was very safe."
She added that the image center was "very sanitary [in] how they do it and what they do."
While the month of October serves as a reminder to get an annual breast exam, they are encouraged all year round.
Dignity Health Central Coast is scheduling screenings at the following locations:
- AGCH Coastal Diagnostic Center - 805.481.4705
- FHMC Women’s Health and Imaging Center - 805.597.6700
- FHMC San Luis Diagnostic Center - 805.542.9700
- MRMC Breast Imaging Center at Mission Hope Cancer Center - 805.346.3490
If you do not have a regular health care provider and would like to arrange and/or qualify for a free breast exam screening, San Luis Obispo County Public Health has posted this resource.
You can also call (805) 781-5500 to find out if these services are right for you.