Komen New Jersey Digital Series — Taking Care of Your Own Breast Health During the COVID-19 Crisis

The Komen New Jersey Digital Series welcomes Dr. Denise Johnson Miller, Medical Director of Breast Surgery at Hackensack Meridian Health to share her advice on how and when to stay safe and healthy while visiting the doctor and rescheduling missed appointments.

Dr. Johnson Miller is a board-certified general surgeon and is fellowship-trained in surgical oncology. As a nationally recognized breast surgeon, she specializes in breast cancer, melanoma surgery, and soft tissue tumors. Dr. Johnson Miller is currently developing clinical translation trials in support of oncology drug testing, as well as an in-depth genetic testing program for multidisciplinary cancer risk screening in breast cancer. Dr. Johnson Miller is also a member of the National Accreditation Program for Breast Centers (NAPBC) accreditation committee for Hackensack Meridian Health and holds high academic standing as the Clinical Professor of Surgery at Seton Hall Medical School and Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery at Rutgers Medical School. Dr. Johnson Miller is interested in the following specialties: accelerated partial breast irradiation, autologous “tissue flap” breast reconstruction, and skin and nipple-sparing mastectomies.

Dr. Johnson Miller is a frequent presenter at national conferences and regional meetings. Widely published in medical journals, she holds several memberships in professional organizations including The American Society of Breast Surgeons, The Society of Surgical Oncology, and The American College of Surgeons.

Komen NJ: There seems to be so much confusion about what is open, and what we should be doing to take care of our health. Are doctors’ offices and clinics open and making appointments for annual well visits and screening mammograms?

Dr. Johnson Miller: All of our imaging and diagnostic locations are open and taking the proper precautions to keep patients safe. If you delayed your annual screening mammogram due to COVID-19, it is so important for you to reschedule your appointment. Your well-being is not elective, and we believe in creating a safe environment where women can access care comfortably and confidently.

Komen NJ: My annual mammogram was delayed or canceled due to Covid, should I just skip this year and wait until 2021?

Dr. Johnson Miller: Your health is not elective and should not be put on hold. You should schedule your mammogram appointment as soon as possible.

Physicians are very concerned about the possibility of some cancers not being detected or being detected at a later stage. We encourage almost everyone to keep up their screening schedule, even if your annual visit has been delayed.

Komen NJ: If I am nervous, or I’m a caregiver for someone who still isn’t sure about going out for routine care, what steps should I take?

Dr. Johnson Miller: Call your provider’s office and ask them to help you understand the steps they are taking to keep you safe. Make sure you are not sick when you go, wear your mask, and make sure that you ask about sanitation practices and screening questions.

Medical offices have gone to great lengths to add safety procedures. At Hackensack Meridian, you’re not waiting in a room with many people anymore, most of the time you wait in your car and they text or call when it’s time for your appointment.

If you still have more questions, the most reliable source of information is the Centers for Disease Control here.

Dr. Johnson Miller stressed throughout the interview the importance of annual screenings and doctor visits. She suggests that patients work with their doctor and the medical office staff to understand the precautions they are taking and make them aware of your needs.

Don’t miss Dr. Johnson Miller speaking about triple-negative breast cancer at the 2020 Komen New Jersey Metastatic Breast Cancer Conference on November 15! Learn more and RSVP here.

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