KNOXVILLE, TN (SPECIAL TO WLAF) Breast cancer and other medical illnesses remain a risk for women—even in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Unfortunately, due to concerns about the virus, many women have postponed their annual screening mammograms, increasing their risk of undetected cancer.   Tennova Healthcare is encouraging women who may have delayed their mammograms to schedule the screening now, because when breast cancer is detected early, life-saving treatment can begin immediately.

“When screenings are delayed, diagnosis is delayed, and treatment is delayed,” said Jeanette Toney, M.D., (ABOVE) an obstetrician and gynecologist with Tennova Medical Group. “But the best chance for survival of any cancer is early diagnosis and treatment. Women should not be afraid to get a mammogram.  Many stringent safety precautions have been put in place at the Tennova Breast Centers in Knoxville, LaFollette, Jefferson City, Newport and Powell to protect everyone from COVID-19. So, as a woman and a doctor, I’m telling you—if you’ve put off a mammogram, please don’t put it off any longer.”

Early Detection Saves Lives

Nearly all breast cancers can be treated successfully if found early. The most effective way to detect breast cancer at an early, treatable stage is to have yearly mammograms. Since mammography became widely used in the 1980s, the U.S. breast cancer death rate in women has dropped 43 percent.

Here in Tennessee, breast cancer was the most frequently occurring cancer site for women in 2017, the most recent year data is available.

For women of average risk, the American College of Radiology (ACR) and Society of Breast Imaging (SBI) recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40, with no upper age limit as long as the woman is in good health. A screening mammogram can help detect breast cancer in its earliest and most treatable stages.

The ACR and SBI recommend that all women, particularly African American and those of Ashkenazi Jewish descent, should have a risk assessment at age 30 to see if a screening earlier than age 40 is needed. Women who were previously diagnosed with breast cancer are recommended to be screened with magnetic resonance imaging—a breast MRI.

Safety Measures to Protect Against COVID-19

For the protection of patients and staff, the Tennova Breast Centers in East Tennessee are pre-screening all patients for any COVID-19 symptoms, limiting appointments to maintain social distancing, requiring all staff and patients wear masks, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces with greater frequency.

Tennova Healthcare offers breast imaging services including digital mammography at North Knoxville Medical Center, Turkey Creek Medical Center, Jefferson Memorial Hospital, LaFollette Medical Center, Newport Medical Center, and Tennova South. To schedule a screening mammogram, call 865-545-7771 or toll-free at 866-645-7771.

To find a primary care doctor or OB/GYN, call 855-TENNOVA (836-6682) or visit Online scheduling and telehealth appointments are available. (WLAF NEWS PUBLISHED – 10/06/2020-6AM)