Omaha-metro hospitals seeing increase in women with more aggressive breast cancer diagnoses

Published: Oct. 21, 2021 at 7:21 PM CDT
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OMAHA, Neb. (WOWT) - During the pandemic, Omaha hospitals saw a steep drop in women coming in for their annual mammograms.

Dr. Paige Harwell, a Breast Surgeon with CHI Health says she thinks women were hesitant to leave during the height of the pandemic, like so many others. But that means many skipped their annual mammogram appointments.

Now, Dr. Harwell says the table has turned and this year, they’ve seen an increase in women coming for their check-ups.

But with that increase, Harwell says they’ve also seen an increase in breast cancer diagnoses, many of them at more aggressive stages and in younger women.

“Almost every patient I’ve seen in the last six months with a new breast cancer diagnosis has told me they didn’t get their mammogram last year, and unfortunately what we are finding is that those patients have bigger tumors and potentially involvement of their lymph nodes, so this is again the push for why it’s so important to get your screening for the early detection,” she says.

During a time when elective procedures are limited due to the pandemic, Harwell reminds patients that cancer is not elective, and mammogram appointments are always available.

She suggests women without a history of breast cancer begin their screenings around age 40, and for those who do have a history, to start 10 years earlier than the age their relative was diagnosed at.

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