October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and with one out of every eight women to be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime, Rhode Island Medical Imaging (RIMI) reminds Rhode Island women older than 40 to get their annual mammograms.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. Among Hispanic women, breast cancer is the top cause of cancer death. Among Black women, the rate of breast cancer death is higher than for white women, including 41 percent higher from 2010 to 2014, according to the CDC.

Breast cancer is highly treatable if found early, according to the National Breast Cancer Foundation. Mammograms are the best way to detect it, and can do so up to two years sooner than a lump is felt during a self-breast exam.

This year, it is estimated that more than 1,000 Rhode Islanders will be diagnosed with breast cancer, and 120 will die from it, according to the National Cancer Society.

Unfortunately, since the start of the pandemic patients have put off, delayed or skipped their important mammography screenings, notes RIMI in a release. In 2020, one leading electronic medical record provider cited an 86 to 94 percent decrease in cancer screenings. Two Massachusetts studies showed 31.5 percent of women surveyed reported a delay in their breast cancer screening, and mammograms declined significantly (between two times and 30 times less) in March through May 2020 over the same period in 2019.

In 2021, the trend has continued. Just last month, U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar announced she was treated for breast cancer after delaying her annual screening due to COVID. Delayed cancer screenings, including mammograms, can cause ripple effects, such as increased instances of more severe cancer diagnosis due to later detection.

RIMI encourages all Rhode Island women age 40 and older to get their annual mammogram screening. Men with breast cancer concerns should also be screened as recommended by their doctor.

“Mammograms save lives,” said Dana Alexander Nolfe, RIMI’s chief marketing officer. “We encourage women over 40 to get their screening and assure them it is safe to do so. We continue to take the utmost precautions in masking, cleaning and distancing to ensure the safety of our patients, doctors and staff.”

RIMI radiologists perform and interpret imaging in Rhode Island at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, Miriam Hospital, Our Lady of Fatima Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, Roger Williams Medical Center and Women & Infants Hospital, as well as at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass. Most of RIMI’s radiologists are also faculty members at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University.

Visit www.rimirad.com for more.

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