MYRTLE BEACH, S.C. (WBTW) – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, highlighting the need for mammograms and early detection.

Dr. Craig Brackett with Tidelands Health said because of the pandemic, fewer women were getting checked out. Dr. Brackett said this trend was seen in March and April of 2020. He’s seen more complex cases because of the delay like advanced tumors in women who delayed their mammogram appointments for 6 months to a year.

“It makes it more complex because the role of chemotherapy becomes more apparent and sometimes we will have to do it before surgery to help shrink things down. It certainly changed it from going to a stage 1 to a stage 2 or 3, which we’ve seen a lot more of that since the pandemic started,” Dr. Brackett said.

Dr. Brackett said a year later into the pandemic, he is finally seeing more women return to get their mammograms. Dr. Brackett believes women were delaying their mammogram screenings in March and April of 2020, afraid they’d get exposed to the virus. Dr. Brackett said mammograms can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer by 40%.

“Early spring of this year, we caught up. A lot of places are back to normal. We know a delay in diagnosis is associated with a poor outcome. You can actually go anywhere from 6 to 9 months without a diagnosis but once you get passed that time, it has impact on survival,” Dr. Brackett said.

Dr. Brackett said mammograms typically start at the age 40 but there is no age limit when it comes to getting one.