October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month: Help Your Patients Feel Safe About Resuming Elective Screenings

Posted October 2, 2020

At a recent American Association of Cancer Research virtual meeting, experts expressed their concerns about the long-term impact caused by the delays in breast cancer screenings due to the COVID-19 pandemic.1 Current models predict there will likely be worsened breast cancer outcomes and an increase in deaths due to the delays in breast cancer diagnosis.1

Breast cancer is one of the most common cancers among American women, regardless of race or ethnicity.2 Early detection and screening allows for a greater range of treatment options and offers better health outcomes.

The American Cancer Society recommends women with average risk may begin screening with mammograms at age 40, and women at high risk may begin screening with mammograms as early as age 30.3

With elective procedures resuming, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois (BCBSIL) encourages providers to weigh the risks and benefits of screening now versus delaying until later for each patient. During this time, it’s important your patients feel safe and comfortable returning to your office. 

Below are a few actions you may want to take to help patients feel safe:4

  • Screen all employees and patients for COVID-19 symptoms upon entering the facility
  • Ensure proper use of patient protective equipment including universal mask policy for all patients, health care providers and staff
  • Add accessible hand sanitizer stations
  • Space out appointments to allow time to clean exam rooms and equipment after each patient visit/procedure
  • Limit visitors in the office to promote physical distancing
  • Optimize telehealth services when available and appropriate

For more information, please refer to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines on how to manage operations during the COVID-19 pandemic

1COVID-19 Pandemic Delayed Breast Cancer Screening in Many Parts of the United States. (2020, July 30). Retrieved from https://www.breastcancer.org/research-news/covid-19-delayed-screening-in-ushttps://www.ncqa.org/hedis/measures/breast-cancer-screening/

2Breast Cancer Screening. (2020). Retrieved from

3American Cancer Society, Recommendations for the Early Detection of Breast Cancer, March 5, 2020. https://www.cancer.org/cancer/breast-cancer/screening-tests-and-early-detection/american-cancer-society-recommendations-for-the-early-detection-of-breast-cancer.html

4Healthcare Facilities: Managing Operations during the COVID-19 Pandemic. (n.d.). Retrieved Sept. 2, 2020, from https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/guidance-hcf.html

The above material is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for the independent medical judgment of a physician or other health care provider. Physicians and other health care providers are encouraged to use their own medical judgment based upon all available information and the condition of the patient in determining the appropriate course of treatment. References to third party sources or organizations are not a representation, warranty or endorsement of such organizations. Any questions regarding those organizations should be addressed to them directly. The fact that a service or treatment is described in this material is not a guarantee that the service or treatment is a covered benefit and members should refer to their certificate of coverage for more details, including benefits, limitations and exclusions. Regardless of benefits, the final decision about any service or treatment is between the member and their health care provider.