Breast Cancer Awareness Month kicks off; mammograms missed nationwide during pandemic

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FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. (KNWA/KFTA) – It is the first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month and a local doctor is urging women to get back on track with mammograms they missed during the pandemic.

According to the American Cancer Society, there was an 87% drop in screenings last year for women due to the pandemic, leaving tens of thousands with missed or delayed diagnoses.

It is a disease doctors say is crucial to detect early on, for both women and men.

“I went to the doctor and he did a biopsy and said, “Yeah, it’s breast cancer,” said Dale Pace.

This is the news women everywhere dread. But, some men, like Pace, hear it too.

After noticing a bump on his chest, Pace went straight to the doctor.

“The next day they were in there operating on me,” he said.

Dr. Holly Gonzalez with the Breast Center in Fayetteville said early detection is crucial especially for women, who are the main target. The pandemic brought some complications to this in 2020, though. Screenings at this center had to come to a halt for two months at the start of the pandemic.

Some experts recommend women get their mammogram before their COVID-19 shot or waiting four to six weeks after the second dose. The shot can cause swollen lymph nodes that might show up on the screening.

“The decision was made not to delay screening because so many were already delayed due to the pandemic,” Dr. Gonzalez said. We know that this is a possibility and we know to watch for that in people that have had their vaccine.”

Gonzalez said the earlier the screening, the better chance women have. The same goes for men who go to the doctor as soon as they notice something abnormal.

Pace believes had he waited any longer to go to the doctor, though, the outcome would look much worse. He is currently seven years cancer-free after getting a mastectomy the day after his diagnosis.

Pace said there is still a fear, however, the cancer could come back. His doctor said if it does, it would likely be stage four. But he said it is something he chooses not to live in fear of.

“Have faith in the man above. “He’s got it in his hands anyway.”

For women needing to get a mammogram scheduled, The Breast Center has opened another location at Highlands Oncology in Springdale. The center takes immediate appointments, so Dr. Gonzalez urges women to take this opportunity to get that screening as soon as they can.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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