‘A lot of women don’t see it as a necessity’
By Bobby Bryant, Editor
Shari Carter wants to make it clear: Getting a mammogram doesn’t hurt. That’s one of the most common misconceptions area residents seem to have about breast cancer and ways to detect it, says Carter, family nurse practitioner for The Medical Group Primary Care, associated with Carolina Pines Regional Medical Center in Hartsville. “ ‘It’s going to hurt.’ ‘I don’t think it’s necessary.’ ‘I’ve already had my children.’ It’s a denial factor,” says Carter. Another misconception, or reason, that some women don’t want a mammogram is “If I don’t look for it, I won’t find it,” says Carter, a Hartsville native who lives in Lamar. “A lot of women do not see it as a necessity,” says Carter. “A lot of people feel that ‘It’s not going to happen to me,’ or there’s not a family history (of breast cancer).” Breast cancer can occur at any age, Carter says; the oldest breast-cancer patient she has seen was 85. Some women, Carter says, seem to feel that you don’t really need a mammogram after you’re, say, 65. It’s important to look at a woman’s overall health in thinking about risk factors, Carter says. And her diet. It’s not a good idea to separate out breast health from your overall health. The COVID pandemic, Carter says, has made it harder for medical providers to steer women toward getting mammograms. Many women (and men) have been reluctant to see any type of doctor simply because they don’t want to risk COVID exposure. In late September, the American Cancer Society estimated that 22 million cancer screenings have been lost or canceled because of COVID. An oncologist in Greensboro, N.C., said that his hospital system, Cone Health, usually diagnoses 90 to 100 women a month with breast cancer, but that it only made about 20 such diagnoses in March and April 2020, when the pandemic began. “That group of women who weren’t screened, a lot of them have not come back yet, so there are over 100 women in Greensboro right now who probably have small breast cancer, but because they missed their screening during the pandemic, they don’t know it yet,” that oncologist, Dr. Matthew Manning, told local news media.