Sen. Amy Klobuchar has revealed she was diagnosed with breast cancer earlier this year.
“In February of this year, doctors at Mayo Clinic found small white spots called calcifications during a routine mammogram,” the 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and current senator of Minnesota wrote in a statement on the website Medium. “After this was discovered, I had a biopsy at Piper Breast Center in Minneapolis, and then learned that I had Stage 1A breast cancer."
She wrote that after additional tests, she returned to Mayo and had a lumpectomy on the right breast which involved the removal of the cancer.
"In May, I completed a course of radiation treatment, and after additional follow-up visits, it was determined in August that the treatment went well,” Klobuchar shared.
Klobuchar said her prognosis appears good right now.
“Of course this has been scary at times, since cancer is the word all of us fear, but at this point my doctors believe that my chances of developing cancer again are no greater than the average person,” she wrote.
Klobuchar, 61, made sure to emphasize the importance of people not putting off any sort of medical exams, particularly during the pandemic. The senator admitted that she did just that.
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“I also want to call attention to the fact that many people have been delaying physicals and routine examinations because of the pandemic,” she wrote.
“I know that because I delayed mine. In fact, more than one in three adults reported delaying or forgoing health care because of coronavirus-related concerns. Studies have found that thousands of people who missed their mammogram due to the pandemic may be living with undetected breast cancer. Over and over, doctors are seeing patients who are being treated for more serious conditions that could have been caught earlier.”
Klobuchar wrote that it's easy to put doctor visits on the back burner, while many people have continued to work from home while juggling personal and professional obligations.
“It’s easy to put off health screenings, just like I did. But I hope my experience is a reminder for everyone of the value of routine health checkups, exams, and follow-through,” she wrote.
“I am so fortunate to have caught the cancer at an early enough stage and to not need chemotherapy or other extensive treatments, which unfortunately is not the case for so many others.”
A 2020 survey by Breastcancer.org found that 11% of women postponed their routine mammograms due to the pandemic. The American Cancer Society recommends mammogram screenings begin at age 45. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force suggests waiting until age 50 to begin routine mammograms. Both organizations suggest a conversation with a health care provider at age 40 to determine an individual's risk and when to begin screening.