Iowans urged to schedule mammograms after seeing pandemic-related decline in appointments

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DES MOINES, IOWA — October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, causing conversation around prevention and detection of the disease.

A Mammogram Technician at UnityPoint Health, Marlene Fries, encouraged people to schedule their routine mammogram, especially if they’ve missed an appointment due to the pandemic.

“COVID stopped a lot of patients from coming into the hospital so we are going and looking up patients who haven’t come in for their yearly, back before COVID,” Fries said. 

According to the American Cancer Society, the death rate from breast cancer decreased by one percent every year from 2013 to 2018.

Health professionals say early detection can lead to less surgery, fewer mastectomies, and less chemotherapy.

Above and Beyond Cancer, a local nonprofit is focused on prevention and helping those living with cancer maintain a healthy lifestyle.

In addition to encouraging Iowans to get back into a doctor’s office during the pandemic, Above and Beyond Cancer has launched online classes to keep people active at home and offered options for self-exams.

“Through YouTube, our doctors, websites and things like that, we can certainly pinpoint a great activity chart for how to do those things,” Executive Director of Above and Beyond Cancer, Chris Goodale said. “The American Cancer Society has a great website. And they certainly would be a great leader as far as teaching women and men really how to do breast cancer, self-awareness.” 

It is recommended by the American Cancer Society that mammograms start at age 40 and age 35 if there is a history of breast cancer in your family.

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