Big drop in women going for breast cancer check-ups during lockdown, Newsline

Pretoria – Fewer women have been going in for breast cancer check-ups and screening during the lockdown which means more cases are missed and by the time they go to see a doctor it could be too late.

Local Radiologist Herman Fourie who practices in Sunnyside, Silverlakes and Arcadia said before the pandemic he saw about 160 women a week and picked up three cancers every week.

Now he saw about five to 10 people per day and only picked up one cancer case per week.

Fourie said cancer did not affect fewer people because of Covid-19 and it affected the same amount of ladies.

He said they were picking the cancer up much later now.

“Of all the cancers that women can get breast cancer makes up the largest percentage which is why we are promoting breast cancer awareness month this October.

“The importance of a mammogram is to pick it up early and if the cancer has already started to spread to the rest of your body, it would be too late,” he said.

Early detection of the condition can lead to effective treatment and a positive prognosis.

About 90% of patients survive for many years after diagnosis.

Fourie said if it is detected too late there is no effective treatment and then they would do surgery to keep the cancer from spreading and then offer chemotherapy.

If it is in their liver or the brain usually those patients have limited time to survive, under five years and some of them have a couple of months depending on how far it has spread.

Fourie said as far as medical aids were concerned they usually do mammograms for people of the age of 40 and upwards and some medical aids only pay for the age of 50 years and upwards.

He said that was not a medical decision but more of a financial decision and from a doctor’s point of view it was recommended from the age of 40 every year.

“If the lump is too small to detect they might miss it because it is too small to find on the mammogram and the following year it is the size of a pea and they don’t come and the year after that it’s big and too late.

They skip the wrong year when it is the most crucial to detect the cancer,” he said.

Corporate Relationship manager of PinkDrive in Pretoria Antoinette Joubert said during the other levels of lockdown they could not have outreach programs.

However since the country has moved to level one they will definitely have trucks available to do screening and wellness programmes and will continue like they did in the past.

She said it was very important to know one’s breasts, body and the changes that can happen and to know that they should go for mammograms especially people over the age of 40.

She advised people to visit the website on www.pinkdrive.co.za and corporate companies around Pretoria to contact her on antoinette@pinkdrive.co.za or 012 332 2945 to book for their employees.

They offer full screening, mammograms, breast checks and screenings for men as well.

Pretoria News