Annual mammograms are a normal part of health care for many American women, but some experts suggest delaying routine screening during the COVID-19 pandemic, reports Oncology Times.

Leaders in the field such as Harold J. Burstein, MD, PhD, of the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and George Sledge, Jr., MD, of Stanford University Medical Center, took to Twitter on March 16 to advocate that clinicians delay screening mammography 

Just 2 days later, on March 18, Susan G. Komen, the world’s leading nonprofit breast cancer organization, issued a statement recommending “healthy women of average risk delay routine breast cancer screening until later this year.” 

“Postponement makes sense for most screens because 1) the timing of screenings is often arbitrary, and 2) it could reduce infection risk for both patients and providers,” according to Sledge.

With the health care systems straining with the care of COVID-19 patients, “we all share a responsibility to help stem the spread and to support our health care providers as they focus on those most in need of care,” Sledge emphasized in the Komen press release. 

Routine screening can be delayed, in part, because annual screens aren’t necessarily crucial in the first place, according to Burstein. 

“Remember that around the world, most countries recommend screening mammograms every 1-2 years, anyway, and not annually like [the] US. So, deferring by a few month[s] should not be of clinical consequence. If a woman has breast changes/concerns/lumps, then a different story.” he said in a March 16 tweet.

Read more at Oncology Times.