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Editorial: Don’t let COVID-19 pandemic stop you from getting potentially life-saving health screenings like mammograms | COMMENTARY

The COVID-19 pandemic has caused people to put plenty of plans on hold, like vacations or weddings, but that also means a number of people have put routine health exams on hold too.

October, of course, is Breast Cancer Awareness month, and a time when health officials encourage women age 40 or older to get an annual mammogram. This year, despite the pandemic, is no different.

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Mammograms, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, can help women find breast cancer early, when it is more susceptible to treatment.

The 5-year survival rate for women with invasive breast cancer is 90% and that number is closer to 99% if the cancer is located only in the breast, according to the American Cancer Society. That’s why regular screenings are so crucial, to catch the disease before it has spread to the lymph nodes or other parts of the body

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Breast cancer is the second-leading cause of death among women in Maryland, behind only by lung cancer. ACS estimates there will be more than 34,700 new cases of breast cancer diagnosed across Maryland and nearly 10,800 deaths in the state in 2020.

Some 285,000 breast screenings were missed during the three-month period from mid-March to Mid-June when the COVID-19 pandemic was at its height in the U.S., according to Epic Health Research Network.

Recently, the University of Maryland Medical System, which operates Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air and Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, released a public service announcement reminding women to schedule their annual screening mammogram now if it has been delayed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

As October winds to a close, there are still ways to support breast cancer awareness in the Harford County community.

Paint the Town Pink is an annual joint initiative between the Upper Chesapeake Health Foundation and the local surrounding communities in support of Cancer LifeNet at Upper Chesapeake Health’s Kaufman Cancer Center.

Cancer LifeNet offers free of charge programs and services to individuals in Harford and Cecil County, including nurse navigation services, financial planning, social work access, nutrition and much more.

The Chesapeake Cancer Alliance is having a Pampered Chef fundraiser and all orders placed until Oct. 25 at www.pamperedchef.com/party/chesapeakecancer2020 will have a portion of the proceeds go toward Cancer LifeNet.

Mucho Gusto and Sunny Day Cafe are also offering promotions through the end of the month.

At Mucho Gusto on Route 1, a Clase Azul tequila bottle lamp will be raffled off with 100% of proceeds matched, and $1 for each of this month’s featured drink, the Pink Ribbon tequila coconut cream mixed berry purée, will be donated.

Sunny Day Café, located on Main Street in Bel Air, is selling cancer awareness bracelets in their store and will match any donation made when visiting the restaurant.

Finally, on Halloween, the VolunTeen Leo Club will host a Pink Pumpkin Patch at the Armory Park in downtown Bel Air, featuring more than 80 pumpkins donated by local businesses, sports teams and families. The community can donate to the pumpkin they like best and all proceeds will benefit Cancer LifeNet.

Do your part to support breast cancer awareness in our community and, if you’re a woman 40 or older who has been putting off your annual mammogram because of COVID or other reasons, talking to your physician about getting one scheduled.

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