Doctors say delta variant is no excuse to skip checkups

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WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- During the pandemic we were told to stay at home. But now, doctors want to send a different message, and they say lives could depend on it. 

Last September, Sheryl Andrews was scheduled for a mammogram. But this was before the vaccine was available, and because of the pandemic Andrews wondered if she should delay it or reschedule.

“I maybe had a brief moment of hesitation, maybe this is a good excuse not to go,” she said. 

Andrews kept her appointment and said doctors later found cancer.

“Because they caught it early and had surgery right away, I’m fine.” 

She says she wanted to tell her story because putting off her mammogram could have had dire consequences.

“So if I had waited a few months, there’s a chance it could have spread outside the margins, and then I would have had to have chemo or radiation.” 

Doctors say not everyone is getting that message. A survey from August 2020 showed as many as 80-percent of women were delaying mammograms during the pandemic.

And with the delta variant of COVID-19 causing another spike in new cases, Dr. Joshua Liberman, preventive cardiologist for Ascension Wisconsin, says he is again seeing patients put off health care.

“The fear is out there,” he said. 

Dr. Liberman says requests for televisits are also rising again. And while he thinks televisits have value for doctors and patients, they can’t replace in-person checkups.

“I can’t listen to their hearts and lungs, or check to see if there is swelling in their ankles,” he said. 

Joseph Weber, Sheryl Andrews’ oncologist at Aurora Cancer Care, says that the medical system was stressed during the pandemic. Right now, your doctor’s office or local hospital is safe from COVID-19.

“With our enhanced protocols, we’re making sure patient safety is first and foremost.” 

Both doctors say that there is no good excuse to delay preventive care, especially if you are vaccinated.

“We’re seeing the end results of people delaying care, they are coming in much worse shape, much more critically ill,” Liberman said. 

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