I would turn that around—it’s unsafe not to get a mammogram! I think that at the beginning of the pandemic we all were very concerned for the safety of our patients (and ourselves) by sending people to hospitals.
However, the experience over the last year has proven that, when appropriate precautions are taken, COVID is not spread from patient-to-patient in a hospital setting. On the contrary, having spent almost every day at the hospital since the pandemic, I see first-hand the precautions that the hospital is taking and feel very safe.
Many Breast Centers actually closed down at the outset but soon re-opened by late Spring. Statistics from earlier in the year have demonstrated an almost-75% decline in screening mammograms. By implementing social distancing and state-of-the-art sterilization techniques, we have made the Breast Center experience no less safe than normal; however, there has been tremendous variation in recovery of mammogram volumes during the 2nd-half of 2020.
Regrettably, this will lead to delayed diagnoses and more advanced cancers if people don’t return. At my Breast Center, the pandemic has motivated us to find ways to decrease patient anxiety by reducing the trips to the BC; for example: biopsies the same day as a mammogram, placing “GPS-clips” necessary for surgical localization at the time of the original biopsy, and off-hour imaging have all enabled us to restore our mammogram volumes back to normal. Through disruption comes innovation.