Breast Cancer Awareness Month and the Impact of COVID on Life Saving Screening Tests

By Carolina Boyd, Communications Associate

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and this year preventative screenings are more important than ever. The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) documented a huge drop in breast cancer screenings during the pandemic. A CDC report showed that the total number of breast cancer tests by women declined by 87 percent in April of 2020, compared with data gathered from the past five-year average.

Even though screenings have started to tick back up, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS), there is still much work to do. Breast cancer remains the second-leading cause of cancer death in women, behind lung cancer. It’s estimated that in 2021 close to 43,600 women will die from breast cancer with another 281,550 new cases expected to be diagnosed. Within the state of Texas, Harris County has the highest breast cancer rate.

According to the National Cancer Institute, an average of 2,319 new cases are diagnosed each year. There is also a large racial gap in mortality. Both black and white women get breast cancer at approximately the same rate, but the mortality rate is 42 percent higher for black women that for white women.

Prevention is still the best weapon in fighting breast cancer. The risk for developing breast cancer can be lowered through various lifestyle changes. Women who exercise, avoid smoking, reduce alcohol consumption, and keep a healthy weight after menopause can lower their chances of developing the disease.

The most commonly used tool to screen for breast cancer is the mammogram. The test checks a woman’s breasts for cancer before signs or symptoms appear. Other screening tools include both the clinical and self-breast exam, as well as the MRI for those with a high risk for the disease. It’s recommended that women talk to their doctors about the best screening options for them.

There is no doubt that breast cancer can be deadly. However, it is survivable if caught early enough. To learn more about breast health, reach out to your Legacy Community Health provider. Appointments can be schedule through our website or by calling 832-548-5000.