BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — During a press conference Thursday morning, members of UAB’s O’Neal Comprehensive Cancer Center urged those who need cancer screenings to go get them.

Dr. Monica Baskin, director for community outreach at the center, assured that hospitals within the UAB system are thoroughly monitored and sanitized.

It was an uncomfortable decision for Lauren Roberts to make during a pandemic.

“The benefits outweighed the risk of not having my mammogram done,” she said.

Roberts was told she’s at high risk of getting cancer so she typically has a mammogram twice per year.

She was in the same situation so many are in now — do you risk exposing yourself to coronavirus to get screened for cancer?

“I was a little nervous about it because my guess is that people who have COVID probably have been at the hospital,” Roberts said. “So my exposure risk was greater.”

UAB medical officials are now encouraging those at risk like Roberts, who need to get screened, to go do it.

Dr. Barry Sleckman, director of the O’Neal Center, cited a study conducted by the National Cancer Institute and said delaying screenings can have serious consequences.

“The initial data suggests that we might expect over the next ten years, an additional 10,000 deaths from those two cancers that would’ve been prevented had screening and treatment been carried out,” Sleckman said.

He said getting treatment after a cancer diagnosis is critical.

“It may be appropriate in some circumstances to delay screening.  It really isn’t when you delay cancer treatment.”

According to Baskin, hospitals within the UAB system are always closely monitoring and sanitizing their facilities.

“There’s social distancing happening, there’s regular cleaning of the hospital, all kinds of things that are being stepped up if you will to make sure that the place is safe for people to come in and feel comfortable,” she said.

Now that Roberts has been through the process, she wants others to do the same.

“I understand that it feels like a risky thing to do right now because of the potential exposure to COVID, but it’s worth it.”

Contact your physician to discuss your risk levels and how you can schedule a screening.

Lauren Roberts is the Executive Director of the breast cancer support center called Forge Survivorship Center. Roberts encourages all who are looking for support during related challenges. Find out more about the organization here.