High-risk mammogram patients ‘hesitant’ to show up for appointments amid COVID-19

The breast screening clinic at the Halifax Shopping Centre has an exterior entrance, so high-risk patients don’t have to worry about walking through the mall to get to their appointments. (Brian MacKay/CBC)

(Carolyn Ray/ CBC) — Staff at the Nova Scotia breast screening program are trying to reassure patients that it’s safe to come in after an alarming number of high-risk women skipped their mammogram.

“It’s a little disheartening. If people aren’t comfortable coming, they really shouldn’t take an appointment,” said Trena Metcalfe, the program manager for the Nova Scotia breast screening program.

High-risk patients include breast cancer survivors, and women showing symptoms such as a lump.

While emergency mammograms continued at hospitals amid COVID-19, screenings at clinics were shut down for two months. This meant that 12,000 routine appointments and 6,000 diagnostic appointments for higher-risk patients were missed out on.

Mammograms started up again for high-risk patients on May 13. But right away, Metcalfe knew there was an issue. (…)

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