EAST MEADOW, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The coronavirus pandemic has caused a major drop off in routine cancer screenings like mammograms, which are supposed to be performed annually for many women.

But doctors are warning against putting them off for too long, CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported Tuesday.

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“We have seen nationwide about 90% fewer people are getting screening for things like breast cancer,” Nassau County Executive Laura Curran said.

It’s a lifesaving reminder to women at Nassau University Medical Center — your breast health is essential.

“We don’t want people to put their health on hold. We wouldn’t want to see someone be diagnosed down the road with late-stage cancer because they were afraid of COVID,” Curran said.


Women are being reminded screenings are done safely in COVID-free zones like a mobil van named for Geri Barish, a five-time cancer survivor who knows aggressive cancers can be deadly if an annual mammogram is skipped.

“You can’t put cancer off. You can’t say, hey, take a rest. It doesn’t,” Barish said.

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Brooklyn mother Anna Cheng knows too well the importance of early detection. In March, as COVID-19 gripped the city, she felt a lump in her breast.

“I knew the hospitals were getting filled up. I did hear that people that wanted to have elective surgeries were starting to have them put on the back burner,” Cheng said.

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But doctors at NYU Langone Pelmutter Cancer Center fast-tracked her imaging and surgery to remove a fast-growing tumor.

“The doctor did say that because of my swift actions, my prognosis looks good,” Cheng said.

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Doctors at NUMC are reassuring patients that hospitals are now safe to return to for routine screenings.

“All our employees are all tested and they are all negative, at this point. Everyone is wearing a mask. We wash our hands. After every patient we sanitize the area,” Dr. Anthony Boulin said.

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Mammograms are advised annually after age 40, depending upon family history even sooner. Cheng, who is only 38 years old, has two words of advice.

“Don’t wait,” she said.

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As New Yorkers continue to un-pause, it’s important to personally pause and take stock of their health.