Susan G. Komen® Updates Breast Cancer Screening Guidance As Communities Begin To Re-open

Susan G. Komen®, the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, today updated its recommendations regarding routine breast cancer screening as communities across the country begin to re-open. Komen now urges everyone to take care of their health by scheduling routine screenings and preventive care and getting any worrisome symptoms checked out. For women who feel well and are due for a screening mammogram (and the center is open), they should do so. Women who were due for screening mammograms this past spring and have not gotten it yet should call their doctors about making an appointment.

“We want to reassure you, it’s OK to see your doctor, even during the continued COVID-19 crisis,” said Komen’s Chief Scientific Advisor Dr. George Sledge, Jr., who is a medical oncologist and Professor of Medicine and Chief of the Division of Oncology in the Department of Medicine at Stanford University. “We don’t want women to stop getting mammograms and there is no reason to further delay. Hospitals and cancer centers know how to appropriately mitigate the risk of infection and are among the safest places to go in society in that regard. We absolutely do not want to see an increase in the number of advanced breast cancers because of delayed screening. We don’t want to lose the gains we’ve made in treating breast cancer.”

This new recommendation updates guidance Komen previously issued on March 18, 2020, during the early stages of the pandemic in the U.S. At that time the organization suggested non-symptomatic (no sign of breast cancer) women delay routine breast cancer screening to reduce the risk of COVID-19 infection and allow health care workers to focus on managing the pandemic. However, Komen noted that diagnostic imaging for people who were displaying warning signs for breast cancer and other essential health care services should not be delayed.

In announcing the updated recommendations, Komen noted that health care leaders now have a better understanding of the situation and the capacity of health care systems in communities across the country, as well as how to minimize exposure to COVID-19. Hospitals and doctors’ offices have instituted new policies and are taking many precautions to reduce risk of COVID-19 infection. Hospitals and outpatient facilities such as mammography centers routinely clean equipment between patients. Health care workers and patients are expected to wear masks and have their temperatures checked. Additional steps are being taken to allow for social distancing, too. For example, appointments may be spread out throughout the day so fewer people are in the waiting room at the same time. Or, people may be asked to wait in their cars until they are called for their appointments. If you are worried about going to the center, talk to your doctor about your concerns.