Breast cancer severity goes down with mammography screening

It's important to keep your screenings on schedule, even during pandemic

Breast cancer severity goes down with mammography screening

The novel coronavirus, COVID-19, impacted mammography during the heightened restrictions because screenings were temporarily delayed.

In fact, the screening test for breast cancer saw a 57% decrease in April 2020 compared to April 2019.

Christopher Johansen, M.D., is a radiologist and breast imaging specialist at the Edith Sanford Breast Center in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and stresses the importance of regular screenings.

After so many months of being told to stay home and avoid unnecessary stops, Dr. Johansen says it can be difficult for a lot of patients to understand that the clinics are safe and ready for patients.

Why it’s safe to keep your appointment

“It’s important for patients to know we’re taking many precautions to make sure their experience here at Sanford is completely safe and is probably more safe than many of the other activities they may be doing throughout the day,” he said.

With a lot of space, he says Sanford makes it easy to follow safety guidelines.

“Our waiting room is large and we have taken precautions to make sure that as you’re here in our waiting room, you’re going to have plenty of personal space and stay socially distanced from those around you.”

All patients are screened and evaluated as they come in the doors to make sure they don’t have any known risk factors for COVID-19. Additionally, everyone is wearing a face mask.

Don’t put the cancer screening on hold

Bottom line, he says, your ability to decrease your risk of dying of breast cancer is directly related to having regular mammography.

“When it’s more advanced, it’s harder to treat. Those are preventable deaths,” Allison Suttle, M.D., said. Dr. Suttle is the chief medical officer for Sanford Health.

Sanford Health providers recommend an annual screening, adding that some mammography is better than no mammography at all but if you’re looking to weigh the risks and rewards: the longer you wait, the less the benefit.

“Even if you’re doing many healthy things, your life can be changed in an instant if you’re diagnosed with breast cancer. The change doesn’t have to be a final change. If you find breast cancer early when we can treat it effectively, it can be a challenge that you overcome and go on to lead a happy, healthy life,” Dr. Johansen said.

“Breast cancers that are found later are much more difficult to treat so I would really encourage people to not take life for granted. Make sure you get your mammogram so that if you are diagnosed someday, you can be cured of it and enjoy all the things in life we have now learned are so important.”

Book your next mammogram

If you have questions, want to book a mammogram, visit, schedule through My Sanford Chart. or by calling (855) 353-3484.

Schedule a mammogram: (855) 353-3484

Bemidji Edith Sanford Breast Center: (218) 333-4624

Bismarck Sanford Cancer Center: (701) 323-5210

Fargo Sanford Breast Health: (701) 234-2300

Sioux Falls Edith Sanford Breast Center: (605) 312-3400

Find your nearest 3D mammography clinic or call an Edith Sanford Breast Center location near you.

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Posted In Bemidji, Bismarck, Cancer, Cancer Screenings, COVID-19, Fargo, Imaging, News, Sioux Falls, Specialty Care, Wellness