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Health Dept.: Don’t put off screenings out of fear of coronavirus

Have you been putting off important health screenings because of COVID-19?

For several months, imaging centers were closed and many routine appointments were canceled due to COVID-19. The public was wisely advised that it was safer to stay home. Now that things are starting to re-open with new precautions in place, it’s time to schedule any routine screenings that you have put off.

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Cancer screenings are essential to keep you healthy. Many people were unable to get screened at the beginning of the COVID pandemic, and some are still delaying screening because of fear of contracting COVID-19. But delaying screening can actually cause more harm than good.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. A mammogram is a screening test that can detect breast cancer early, even before it causes symptoms or before you can feel a lump. Detecting cancer early is the key to receiving the most successful treatment.

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The American Cancer Society recommends that most women should have a mammogram every year after age 45, although some women over 55 may get a mammogram every other year. Delaying a mammogram by six months or a year could allow undetected breast cancer to progress or possibly spread, making it more difficult to treat.

If you do not have health insurance, or if your insurance does not cover routine mammograms, there is a program to help you. The Carroll County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program helps women ages 40-64 to obtain a mammogram, breast exam, and gynecological (GYN) exam if you meet qualifications. Please call 410-876-4423 (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) to see if you qualify and to register. Services are available at no cost to eligible women. Insured women may be eligible for the patient navigation program, which provides guidance to patients as they move through the healthcare system.

Take steps for your health today. Talk to your doctor about cancer screenings including whether you are due for a mammogram. Your doctor can help you assess your risk for cancer as well as for COVID-19. By taking a few simple steps to reduce your risk of COVID-19, you might find that you feel comfortable enough to get your routine cancer screenings.

Anne S. Grauel is with the Cigarette Restitution Fund Program of the Carroll County Health Department.

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