Pandemic pauses mammograms and pap smears

"The reality is that breast cancer and other diseases don´t quarantine and are still present," Ordóñez, Director General of Health

  • 22/10/2020
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Pandemic pauses mammograms and pap smears
The Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico also shows that the mortality rates observed due to malignant breast tumors increased from 2011 to 2018. (Cuartoscuro)

Early detection is critical in diagnosing breast cancer; in these cases, women have a greater chance of recovering. So far, in 2020, the number of mammograms performed has decreased due to the covid-19 pandemic, highlighted Juan Carlos Ordóñez, General Director of Salud Digna.

According to data from the National Epidemiological Surveillance System, 14,180 cases of this type of cancer were registered during 2019, leading to death from malignant tumors over 25 years of age.

The Institute of Statistics and Geography in Mexico also shows that the mortality rates observed due to malignant breast tumors increased from 2011 to 2018.  In 2019, this type of cancer affected mainly women aged 30 to 59 years. Estimations are that two out of ten deaths are caused by breast cancer.


Juan Carlos Ordóñez, general director of Salud Digna, explained in an interview with La Cadera de Eva. This year, we have detected a drop in the number of mammograms and pap smears usually perform because of the pandemic.

"The reality is that breast cancer and other diseases don't quarantineand are still present. We all have to be responsible for our health," he said.

We do see that some modalities such as mammograms and pap smears are exceptionally well below what we had last year. What does this mean? During this time, it is easy to forget that health is much more than just coronavirus; of course, we must be aware. But we can't leave the path in which we have moved forward little by little regarding Mexican women's awareness and prevention; early detection is the key between life and death

He explained that since the beginning of October, there had been an increase in these studies compared to September, but the figure is still far from how it was last year.

Salud Digna expects to carry out a total of 500 thousand mammograms in 2020. As part of the "Pon el Pecho" campaign, which granted 10 thousand exams free of charge on October 19, the  National Day of the Fight against Breast Cancer.

Also, throughout October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, mammograms' cost at its 12 clinics throughout the Republic is 150 pesos.

Ordóñez explained that performing a mammogram takes between six and eight minutes, the facilities have "sensory rooms," with sounds and images of the beach or forest, which help women feel less nervous when having the test.


HER2 positive breast cancer is aggressive since tumors tend to cause rapid relapses and disease progressions, generally more extensive and with a higher probability of metastasis, explain Dr. Angélica Ávila, manager for Breast Cancer at Roche Mexico.

The specialist recalled that for 20 years, there had already been the trastuzumab treatment, which allows patients to have better long-term survival. However, despite this progress, 25% still have a relapse in less than ten years. That is, one in four will develop the disease again.

Science continues to search for options to avoid these relapses, and as part of this, the APHINITY study was carried out through which double blockade was reviewed.

Dr. Ávila explained that the use of trastuzumab and pertuzumab was analyzed, which act at different blocking points and reduce the probability that the patient will have the disease again or die from cancer the next ten years.

For this study, an analysis was carried out in more than 4 thousand patients from various parts of the world, including Mexico.

The result we have is that it generally reduces the probability of the disease to return by 19% for patients with HER 2 positive breast cancer. But when we see patients who have a high risk of relapse, we receive mainly by the presence of positive lymph nodes at the time of diagnosis. These patients have a 25% lower benefit even if the disease returns in 10 years highlighted the specialist

This treatment is recommended for patients at an early stage who will have surgery initially, which is adjuvant since they are first operated on and then receive systemic therapy. "That is, tumors that still do not metastasize at a distance and whose objective is to be able to get closer to the cure of the disease," he emphasized.

Traducción: Valentina K. Yanes