Health and Wellness, News and Events
Now is the time – don’t forget about routine cancer screenings
The COVID-19 pandemic led many to delay routine breast and colon cancer screenings. If you haven’t already, now is the time to schedule your screening. Early detection saves lives.
- August 31, 2021
- By Staff Writer
During the COVID-19 pandemic, health systems across the country paused many elective procedures like cancer screenings to better protect patients as COVID-19 cases surged.
Even though M Health Fairview and others resumed these appointments with new COVID-19 safety precautions like masking, disinfecting, and social distancing, the American Cancer Society (ACS) reported a significant drop in patients coming in for routine cancer screenings.
Early cancer detection saves lives. We’re encouraging patients to come in and catch up on any preventative screenings they may have missed over the past year.
Visit our website to schedule a routine breast or colon cancer today or call 1-855-324-7843.
“We know that screening reduces the risk of death by up to 50 percent in breast cancer patients who have been coming in for yearly mammograms,” said M Health Fairview Radiologist Jessica Kuehn-Hajder, MD. “There are people who put it off this past year when they would normally come in, and they’ve forgotten to come back because it’s not in their typical timeframe.”
Mammograms are recommended annually for women age 45 to 54 at an average risk of breast cancer, and every two years for women 55 and older in good health. Women at a high risk for breast cancer – determined in large part by family and medical history – are advised to get an annual mammogram and breast MRI starting at age 30, according to the ACS.
Colorectal cancer is another of the most prevalent forms of cancer in the United States. Colorectal cancers affect both men and women. As with breast cancer, sticking to screening guidelines can help doctors detect the disease early and increase the chance of a positive outcome. The ACS recommends that all adults at an average risk of colorectal cancer start screening regularly at age 45.
Options for colorectal cancer screening vary. A colonoscopy is recommended for those at higher risk for the disease. For those at average risk, there are a number of other options, including stool tests performed yearly or every three years.
“If you get a high-quality colonoscopy, that’s the best option – but it’s important that it’s a high-quality exam. The problem with stool tests is that they find cancers pretty well, but they don’t find most polyps,” said M Health Fairview Gastroenterologist Piet de Groen, MD. “There’s a risk that someone has a polyp that doesn’t get detected by a stool test, and then it progresses to a cancer.”
One way that patients can help improve the quality of a colonoscopy is by following the necessary preparations. The goal in the days leading up to the exam is to get the colon as clean as possible, so that doctors have a better view of potential polyps. For people with prior abdominal surgery, diabetes, constipation, or other unique conditions, it can be harder to get the colon clean. It’s important to have a conversation with your doctor and be sure you understand all the necessary preparations.
As with breast cancer, certain factors make people more likely to develop colorectal cancer. For more information, as well as screening guidelines for higher-risk individuals, visit the ACS website.
M Health Fairview continues to follow COVID-19 safety protocols – we require masks indoors at all of our facilities and continue to follow enhanced cleaning, screening, and social distancing procedures. Kuehn-Hajder recommends making an appointment sooner rather than later, as cancer screenings tend to be more in-demand toward the end of the year.
When you’re ready, we’re ready to help – whether it’s your first time needing an exam, or you’re coming in for a screening you missed over the past year.