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Did you skip or delay your mammogram in 2020? It's time to reschedule

Preventative appointments could save your life

ST. LOUIS — If you delayed or canceled well-woman visits or mammograms in 2020 — which research indicates was the case for many women — getting back on track could save your life.

“A lot of times women put their own preventative health services in the background, either because they had a partner or family member or parent who was ill or they were just too nervous to go out in public and participate in well women care,” said Dr. Sara LaRue, an OB-GYN at Mercy Hospital. “So now is the time to restart those services.”

With COVID-19 safety measures in place, Dr. LaRue says the doctor's office is a safe place to go for your regular appointments--or concerns about something irregular. In fact, it's much safer than not going.

“One of the saddest things that we run into as healthcare providers is the delay in diagnosis,” said Dr. LaRue. “Even just by a few months delay in diagnosis of breast cancer can increase your risk of mortality, as well as increase the amount of treatment that you may need to undergo including chemotherapy and radiation.”

Susan G. Komen Missouri provides a list of local resources for those unsure of where to get screened. The site also includes breast cancer facts, a guide to self-exams, and tips for early detection.

Jennifer Demsar from Melissa, Illinois credits her life to a mammogram appointment in 2019.

“I had no family history, I never felt any lumps, and I had breast cancer,” she said. “An aggressive type that had I let go or had I waited a year, they said my prognosis would have been totally different.”

She says because the mammogram detected the cancer cells, she was able to get a mastectomy and begin treatment right away.

“I have a very good outlook,” Demsar says today. “And things are things are well for me right now.”

Your doctor can help determine how often you should get breast exams and mammograms based on your family history and other risk factors, as well as other warning signs to watch for. However, it all starts with scheduling that appointment.

“I always tell people you're going to come to the doctor anyway at some point because you're in pain or something's not right or you're not feeling good,” said Demsar. “You can't go back and get screened once you and you miss that window, so it's just best to get it taken care of.”

5 On Your Side is proud to serve as the media sponsor for the Susan G. Komen “More Than Pink Walk,” happening Saturday, June 12. The event is once again virtual, so you're invited to "walk where you are," and there’s still time to register for free.

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