SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – When the pandemic hit, mammogram screenings were delayed across the country.

That resulted in some women getting a diagnosis of breast cancer much later than they should have.

Though screening rates have continued to rebound. Doctors at Sutter Health hope that new technology will get even more women examined.

A few moments of discomfort that could save your life.

“I’m just taking good care of myself. My sister is a breast cancer survivor so it’s recommended I do this every year,” Melissa Gundran said. 

Melissa Gundran is a patient at Sutter CPMC’s Center for Women’s Health Care. On Wednesday, she received a 3D mammogram.

“It gets all of these different views and puts together a 3D image of your breast. It’s really great at seeing through breast tissue better than a standard 2D mammogram and is recommended for women with dense breasts,” Dr. Anne Peled, co-director of Sutter’s CPMC Breast Health Center, said. 

The technology is the new standard for all patients at Sutter’s Breast Health Center. 

Co-director of the Center, Dr. Anne Peled, is hoping after a year where 31% of women either delayed or missed mammograms, that screening rates will continue to rebound.

“Understandably, a lot of people have put off preventive measures and things like mammograms and other cancer screenings,” Dr. Peled said.

75% of women who were diagnosed with breast cancer in the last six months of 2020 had had their annual screening mammogram delayed due to the pandemic.

“We know that coming in earlier for mammograms leads to earlier detection, less treatment, and hopefully better outcomes,” Dr. Peled said.

Women should begin annual screening mammograms at age 40 but if you have a family history or other risk factors like dense breasts, one might be necessary sooner.

“It may be the difference between finding a cancer in stage zero where you just need surgery or radiation. As opposed to Stage 1 or 2 where you might need chemo in addition to surgery and radiation,” Dr. Peled said.

Dr. Peled is a breast cancer survivor herself — Diagnosed at age 37 after finding a lump at home.

“When it hadn’t gone away in two weeks, I went in and got it biopsied and was stunned to find it was invasive breast cancer,” Dr. Peled said.

She’s almost four years out now and hopes by sharing her story will encourage all women regardless of age, to self-check their breasts, and see their doctor if they find a lump.

“People worry about what’s going to happen if you get diagnosed with cancer, but we know if you’re treated early you should do really well,” Dr. Peled said.

Following her own diagnosis, Dr. Peled created a new mastectomy procedure for women diagnosed with breast cancer.

Coming up next Wednesday night, KRON4’s Noelle Bellow takes a closer look at the technique that is helping patients regain confidence after surgery.