Breast cancer survivor encourages other women not to put off mammograms

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Breast cancer screenings were a big casualty of the COVID-19 pandemic and although patients are coming back, doctors fear precious time may have been lost.

Ann Newman, 80, stays on top of her health with regular workouts, good eating, and keeping stress down.

With breast cancer in her family, Ann wasn't about to miss her yearly mammogram, pandemic or not.

"I never miss, ever, since I was 40," she said.

When technicians took more and more pictures and then did a biopsy, she knew something was up.

"They did find - they found a small tumor," she recalled.

Ann had surgery to remove the tumor, followed by a short course of radiation.

"Because it was so small and not invasive, we came up with ten treatments, which was really very simple," she said.

Dr. Catherine Carruthers, a Main Line Health breast surgeon, says she's seeing the results of many missed or delayed mammograms.

"We have a lot of patients that are coming in now with abnormal mammograms," she said. "Some of the cancers do seem to be a little bit more advanced than I think they would have been had we caught them in 2020."

Not only are the cancers larger, more of them involve lymph nodes, so the treatment is more aggressive, with more patients needing chemotherapy.

"They might need more extensive radiation or sometimes even more extensive surgery than if they'd had their mammogram last year," said Dr. Carruthers.

Ann now takes a daily medication to prevent her cancer from returning and she nudges others to catch up with all their screenings, including a neighbor who still had a mammogram prescription in her purse.

"When I got the diagnosis, I dropped up to see her and I said - Christine, get your mammogram now. Don't mess with it. Just go. So she did," she said.
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