Is it Safe to Get a Mammogram During the COVID-19 Pandemic?

“When I get concerned calls or texts from my family and friends, I tell them that I actually feel safest at the hospital,” says Heather Greenwood, MD, breast imaging radiologist and faculty in the UC San Francisco Department of Radiology and Biomedical Imaging.

Early on in the pandemic, many people put off routine medical appointments, including annual mammography screenings. In fact, UCSF postponed all screening imaging studies (screening mammography, lung cancer screening, colon cancer screening, DEXA) from March 4 through May 4. Now that it is August and cases continue to rise, we see that COVID-19 could be with us for quite a while. With this in mind, it’s important to remind people that it is safe to get a mammogram during the COVID-19 pandemic as long as you are not feeling sick or have COVID-19 symptoms.

At UCSF Radiology, we have protocols in place to keep all patient interactions safe. All patients are screened for COVID-19 illness, and we take appropriate actions for patients who screen positive for possible illness, including delaying or canceling the scheduled visit or imaging exam where appropriate. We also require that all employees and individuals entering UCSF Health hospitals and clinics be screened for symptoms. Also, we have implemented physical distancing to ensure a 6-foot distance from others.

Additionally, the UCSF Health Department of Hospital Epidemiology and Infection Control has identified appropriate patient isolation strategies, appropriate actions and PPE usage. Anyone in a UCSF campus space is required to wear a face covering at all times and we distribute face coverings upon entry as needed. Hospitals and clinics are rigorously cleaned and disinfected rigorously, following Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) infection prevention guidelines. We are truly going above and beyond to keep patients and staff safe. Visit our Radiology Resources for Coronavirus (COVID-19) page for more information.

Breast cancer screening helps detect cancer at its earliest stage, when the disease is potentially more treatable and curable. At UCSF Radiology, we support guidelines that recommend annual breast cancer screening at age 40. Women at high risk may need to start screening as early as age 25. This is why it is important for women to continue to get regular mammograms during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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