SAN ANTONIO – The pandemic has taken a toll on everyday lives. In a two-part series with our sister station, News 4, Fox San Antonio explored what the pandemic exposed when it comes to women’s health and the impacts of the future.
It’s a screening that’s known to be quick and accessible. However, it was not the case for women in 2020.
“In Texas, you actually don't need an order from a physician to get a mammogram, which is really an important thing,” said Dr. Kate Lathrop, Associate Professor of Medical Oncology, at the Mays Cancer Center at UT Health San Antonio.
Throughout the pandemic, the cancer center saw a 30% drop in screenings and it's raising alarm for local health experts.
“For the number of women who are diagnosed with cancer and the number of mammograms that are done every year, it’s a big number,” added Dr. Lathrop.
According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in April of 2020 the CDC saw a sharp decline of more than 85% in the total number of breast cancer screening tests received by women through the center’s early detection program.
“For now, the assumption is with a drop-in screening, we're going see women presenting with more advanced disease,” explained Dr. Lathrop.
Survey data gathered by the American Society of Clinical Oncology also showed two-thirds of Americans reported their scheduled cancer screenings for mammograms or colonoscopies were delayed or skipped because of the pandemic.
“A lot of those women are really burden this year and getting their mammogram probably was falling to the end of that list,”
Another increased challenge was on mental health.
“I think that they dealt a lot with depression and feeling like you couldn't handle multiple responsibilities, said Beatrice Ballard, a licensed marriage and family therapist.
Ballard said the effects of the pandemic have led to women feeling a sense of guilt.
“Trying to juggle two full time jobs, whether you're doing your career and then you’re home. You think you should still be able to do all of this, it kind of pushes you into a state where you just feel guilty for not being able to do at all.”
The family therapist is reminding women that it’s okay to hit the pause button.
“Don’t give up on getting the help that you need, because you deserve that,” added Ballard.
For Dr. Lathrop, that also means being advocate for your own health.
“It’s always a good day when we don't diagnose breast cancer.”
To view the second part of this report on how the pandemic has impacted women in the workforce, head over to News 4 San Antonio.