Health professionals: Don’t put off health screenings because of the pandemic

Health professionals are reminding people that they do not have to delay potentially life-saving health screenings during the pandemic.
Actress Kelly Preston lost her two-year battle with breast cancer this week, dying at age 57. Her death had many reflecting on their own health. And medical experts say that New Jerseyans should not delay important screenings for illnesses because of fears over COVID-19.
“Certainly, for women, it was appropriate over the last four months or so since we were in lockdown, to delay mammography,” says Dr. Deborah Toppmeyer of the Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.
Toppmeyer did not treat Preston or know details about her particular case. But says that she hopes that Preston’s death servers as a reminder for women about the importance of regular health screenings and early detection.
“Mammograms do save lives. Probably reduces the death rate by about 20% and earlier detection can lead to earlier stage diagnoses and implement treatment much quicker,” she says.
Toppmeyer says that medical facilities across the state are taking extra precautions to keep patients and staff safe from the virus, including disinfecting, reduced foot traffic and requiring masks.
“Unfortunately, given what’s going on in the country now, we don’t know where we’ll be [several] months from now. I hope we’ll continue to improve. But this is the window of opportunity in the state of New Jersey to get your mammography,” Toppmeyer says.
She says that this is the case for all cancer screenings, not just for breast cancer.