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Physicians stress importance of breast cancer screenings

Published: Oct. 13, 2020 at 5:11 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) — October 13 is Metastatic Breast Cancer Awareness Day, so physicians at Sentara RMH Medical Center emphasize how it is more important than ever to come in for a mammogram, even during a pandemic.

Community outreach looks different this year with coronavirus restrictions, but there is still the virtual breast cancer 5K. Sentara physicians are also encouraging community members to come in for their screenings.

Medical Director of the Breast Program, Shannon Tierney, says early detection is the best possible approach to ensure that patients have multiple options.

“Although it is obviously very, very serious, stage four disease these days has a much better prognosis than it has in the past. Our medical therapies are so good these days, that we’re often able to keep patients alive and comfortable for years," Tierney said.

She also says RMH screened 500 more women in June and August than in the previous year, and they have added measures to keep patients safe. After patients register, they are asked to wait in their car before being called in for their appointment. Staff members wear masks as well as eye protection, and there is a Plexiglas shield at reception.

“We completely understand that people are fearful of going in for any sort of unnecessary appointment with medical providers, however, I really want to emphasize that this is medically important. The screening with mammograms is one of the few screening tests that has been shown to decrease mortality for breast cancer," Tierney said.

Getting those screenings can help detect disease early on and prevent the need for treatment such as chemotherapy, radiation or mastectomies. Women over the age of 40 are encouraged to register.

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