Fewer breast cancers are being diagnosed because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Earlier in the year, when the pandemic began to intensify, many health care institutions suspended their screening programs and weren't offering mammography to patients. This resulted in a nearly 50% drop in new diagnoses of breast cancer, according to a study in JAMA.

Fewer people are being diagnosed with breast cancer because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Katie Hunt, a Mayo Clinic radiologist, wants patients to know it's safe and important to resume their regular breast cancer screening.

"If you delayed getting your screening mammogram because of the pandemic, schedule it now," Hunt says. "The biggest risk of skipping breast cancer screening is that cancer has more time to grow and potentially progress into a more advanced stage.

"Screening mammography has been incredibly successful because we detect cancers when they're small and treatable, which results in better outcomes for our patients. We don't want to miss that window of opportunity. So, again, if your mammogram has been delayed by the pandemic, please don't wait any longer and come in and get your mammogram done."

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Hunt recommends women start yearly screening mammograms at age 40.

Uterine fibroids are common noncancerous growths

Uterine fibroids are noncancerous growths of the uterus that often appear during childbearing years. Also called leiomyomas (lie-o-my-O-muhs) or myomas, uterine fibroids aren't associated with an increased risk of uterine cancer and almost never develop into cancer.

Fibroids range in size from seedlings, undetectable by the human eye, to bulky masses that can distort and enlarge the uterus. You can have a single fibroid or multiple ones. In extreme cases, multiple fibroids can expand the uterus so much that it reaches the rib cage and can add weight.

Many women have uterine fibroids sometime during their lives. But you might not know you have uterine fibroids because they often cause no symptoms. Your doctor may discover fibroids incidentally during a pelvic exam or prenatal ultrasound.

Many women who have fibroids don't have any symptoms. In those that do, symptoms can be influenced by the location, size and number of fibroids.

In women who have symptoms, the most common signs and symptoms of uterine fibroids include:

  • Heavy menstrual bleeding
  • Menstrual periods lasting more than a week
  • Pelvic pressure or pain
  • Frequent urination
  • Difficulty emptying the bladder
  • Constipation
  • Backache or leg pains
  • Rarely, a fibroid can cause acute pain when it outgrows its blood supply, and begins to die.

Fibroids are generally classified by their location. Intramural fibroids grow within the muscular uterine wall. Submucosal fibroids bulge into the uterine cavity. Subserosal fibroids project to the outside of the uterus.

See your health care provider if you have:

  • Pelvic pain that doesn't go away
  • Overly heavy, prolonged or painful periods
  • Spotting or bleeding between periods
  • Difficulty emptying your bladder
  • Unexplained low red blood cell count (anemia)

Seek prompt medical care if you have severe vaginal bleeding or sharp pelvic pain that comes on suddenly.

(c)2020 Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research

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