Avera Medical Minute: The importance of getting a mammogram during a pandemic

Published: Oct. 15, 2020 at 3:37 PM CDT
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SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (Dakota News Now) - During breast cancer awareness month in October, Dr. Michelle Bryan wants to send the message that it’s still important to have a mammogram during the pandemic. Dr. Bryan is an Avera breast cancer surgeon, with an interesting perspective on the pandemic due to her previous research in virology. Dakota News Now health reporter Beth Warden had the opportunity to ask her several questions about breast cancer screenings.

Q: How prevalent is breast cancer?

A: Dr. Bryan- There is a 12% lifetime risk in this country of getting breast cancer here in South Dakota our numbers actually run a little higher than the national average. And I think that’s why it’s really, especially important for us locally to be talking about this and making sure with everything else going on in the world we are forgetting to get our screenings,

Q: I understand that at Avera, all the mammograms are now 3D and you suggest starting at age 40. What about family history?

A: Dr. Bryan- Having a first-degree relative with a history of breast cancer increases your risk we think by about two-fold. There are some screening tools that your primary care doctor can use, as well as filling out a family history to do some of those preliminary calculations.

Q: And even though there may be concerns about coming in for a mammogram during the pandemic, you just recently had a mammogram?

A: Dr. Bryan- It felt a little different. My mammo tech didn’t give me a hug, but that’s okay. She still did a great job doing my mammogram, really great sanitation, really great in terms of masks, and I felt really good and safe. And that’s coming from somebody who used to do research in virology. So, I know exactly what it takes to sanitize and I felt really good that we did that.

Q: For women who sometimes put themselves last as they care for others, how important is it to have a mammogram?

A: Dr. Bryan- Caring for yourself is so important, especially with all the stress we have going on right now, with everything going on in the world and in our lives. And don’t forget that those stress hormones aren’t good for anything including your immune system, so I worry even more if people aren’t following through with their primary care with their screenings of all types.

Q: It seems like there’s so much more hope and more treatment options. Is that the case?

A: Dr. Bryan- Research keeps progressing so I think there’s a lot of hope. Maybe someday I’ll be put out of business that would be awesome. You know one of the coordinators and I always talk about: wouldn’t it be great if we could close the clinic. We’re not there yet, especially here in South Dakota, but we’re always striving for that.

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