Local clinic offers new breast cancer screening option as regular health check-ups decline during pandemic

LIBERTY LAKE, Wash. – Because of the pandemic, some people are pushing back life-saving health checks. Some cancer screenings dropped between 56 to 85 percent, according to a report from the American Journal of Managed Care.

Breast cancer topped the list being the highest preventative measure being delayed.

Kaiser Permanente of Washington says it saw a decline in women coming in for health check-ups. Dr. James Greene, a women’s health provider with Kaiser, says some visits went down to “zero” around March, April and May.

“There was a definite decline in patients coming in for basic services like contraception, pap smears, preventive visit exams,” Greene added.

Women are also pushing off one of the most important preventative measures: breast cancer screening.

The new Kvinna Clinic in Liberty Lake is giving women another option to get it done.

Co-founder Angela Barnes created the place because she saw her friend get diagnosed with stage four breast cancer. Her friend is now fighting for her life.

“She went in for her yearly mammogram, got the letter in the mail that said everything was fine, but there was actually a cancer there that had gone undetected,” Barnes told 4 News Now.

She believes if her friend had access to the SonoCine machine, her cancer could’ve been found sooner.

Kvinna’s SonoCine machine is one of five in the nation in a private clinic rather than a hospital. Barnes says this machine is meant as an additional measure with mammograms.

The SonoCine machine has been on the market for about 10 years now. It captures up to 5,000 images per breast through an ultrasound instead of an x-ray.

Barnes says the machine also captures the whole breast tissue, where a mammogram only shows tissues between the two plates in an x-ray.

“For women who have dense breast tissue, and/or cosmetic breast implants, it’s very important, because a mammogram doesn’t always capture and see small cancers in those women in particular,” she said.

That’s what had happened to her friend. It may be harder to detect cancer in women who have dense breast tissue.

“Those are the women who unfortunately fall between the cracks where cancers go missed until they’re large and advanced in nature,” she said.

Getting screened is important, and doctors urge people to not push them off.

The American Journal of Managed Care‘s report saw an 85 percent drop of breast cancer screenings at the peak of the pandemic.

Fewer places were open for in-person appointments and some people were afraid of being exposed to COVID.

With screenings being delayed, health officials worry people will find issues at a later stage, even possibly resulting in higher death rates from cancer.

Health clinics and doctors have the proper PPE and are cleaning spaces enough to ensure safety for everyone.

“There are so many asymptomatic lesions that could be found on routine screenings that it’s safe enough you don’t want to delay appointments such as those where things could really be benefited by early detection,” Greene said.

“It is hugely critical that women take their breast health seriously and they come in and they get their yearly screenings,” Barnes added.

Kvinna, which is Swedish for woman, opens on Monday, February 8. For more information on appointments and the SonoCine machine, click here.