Keeping up with your health checks during Covid

Do you have a lump you keep meaning to have checked, or a medical screening appointment you’ve been putting off since Covid?

You’re not alone.

We know that even before Covid, often women put the needs of others in their family ahead of their own, including when it comes to matters of health. 

Recent data shows a concerning drop in women’s health checks with less people engaging with health services since the pandemic reached Australia.

As we all take measures to curb the spread of Covid in the community and keep our families safe, like many of my colleagues, I have heard from some of my patients their reluctance to attend health appointments, including important screening and health checks.

According to a Special Report released by Breastcancer.org, the pandemic has affected rates of screening, diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up care for breast cancer.

We understand that appointments that may have already been an emotional struggle before lockdown may now have an added layer of fear of difficulty. You may be wondering if it’s even safe to go to certain medical appointments or if you should postpone treatments or screening.

Especially in these uniquely challenging times, it is important to take care of your own health and wellbeing.

We know that detecting cancer at an early stage gives you the best chance of a positive outcome.

If you’ve been putting off an appointment, here are some things to know:

Access: Firstly, despite many parts of NSW still under lockdown restrictions, leaving home to access necessary healthcare is permitted and encouraged. I actively encourage you to book an attend any medical appointments you may have been putting off.

Appointments: It is important and comforting to note that GPs and other healthcare providers have Covid infection prevention and control measures in place to ensure the safety of staff and patients.

Telehealth v Face-to-face: Where possible, most GPs and other practices are also offering telehealth appointments – myself included. Where telehealth is not possible, such as for pathology or medical screening, stringent control measures are in place to keep everybody safe.

Have you checked your breasts recently?

Now is a great time to do a self-check. Women are encouraged to have a detailed look and feel of their breasts once a month to detect any signs of change.

According to the Sydney Breast Cancer Foundation, while mammograms can help you to detect cancer before you can feel a lump, self breast examinations help you to be familiar with how your breasts look and feel so you can alert your healthcare professional if there are any changes.

Check out the SBCF’s fantastic 3-step self-check resource you can do right now.

We understand that Covid has created many feelings of fear, uncertainty, anxiety and additional stress for many members of our community. Please don’t hesitate to contact my team with any questions or support you may need. We are here to support you through this time.