Impact of pandemic on breast cancer funding and screening

Local News

(WSYR-TV) — While the pandemic may be top of mind for some, breast cancer is still the second leading cause of cancer death in women.

It was just five years ago when Tracey Burkey almost skipped out on her annual mammogram.

…decided to get it over with and low and behold was told after a biopsy that I indeed had breast cancer — Stage 2.

Tracey Burkey — 5-year cancer survivor, board member of the American Cancer Society Northeast Region

After a double mastectomy and chemotherapy, Burkey can now say she’s a survivor. But, she and others are worried.

Because of the pandemic, many are avoiding their routine checkups in fear of catching COVID-19.

And for a while, those at the Upstate Cancer Center couldn’t accept those patients.

“Things that were felt to be not urgent or emergent were asked to be delayed or decreased in amount,” said Dr. Ranjna Sharma, the medical director at Upstate Breast Cancer Program.

They are working on the backlog of appointments which Sharma said are finally ramping up. A great sign, she said, because breast cancer is difficult to detect on your own.

“Many cases of breast cancer are diagnosed with routine screen mammography, most of them are,” said Sharma.

But, finding a cure doesn’t stop in the exam room. Funding for research and services also plays a big role. This is something the pandemic is also hampering.

The American Cancer Society is looking at a $200 million deficit for this year alone. A financial gap people like Burkey are desperately hoping to close.

People who can’t afford to have their treatment, who can’t afford to travel out of town for treatment, or who don’t have rides to get there. These are they many services that American Cancer Society is able to help with

Tracey Burkey — 5-year cancer survivor, board member of the American Cancer Society Northeast Region

And services that still continue throughout the pandemic.

The Upstate Cancer Center does have a mobile mammography van making its rounds across Central New York. Appointments are required and to set one up all you have to do is call 315-464-2582.


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