OCTOBER IS BREAST CANCER AWARENESS MONTH
Cancer Services Program Screens the Uninsured
Thursday, September 29, 2016
Elmira – Each year in New York, nearly 15,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer and about 2,700 women die from the disease. These women are our wives, mothers, sisters, and friends.
The mission of the Cancer Services Program (CSP) of The Southern Tier is to ensure that all age-appropriate women, despite insurance status, have access to breast cancer screening. Uninsured women who are 40 years of age and older may be able to get breast cancer screening through the Cancer Services Program of The Southern Tier.
Denise Argetsinger, of the CSP urges all women to talk to their doctor about breast cancer screening and their personal risk for the disease. “A woman’s best chance for survival is finding breast cancer early through regularly scheduled mammograms,” says Argetsinger. “Our program has helped thousands of women access breast cancer screening for the past 20 years.”
Breast cancer is most commonly found in women 50 years old or older. The United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends a mammogram every two years for women between 50 and 74 years of age. Women ages 40–49 years old are encouraged to talk to their health care providers about when and how often they should have screening mammograms. Any woman who is at high risk for breast cancer, as determined by a doctor, may need to begin screening earlier. Any woman, or man, who has symptoms or changes in their breasts should schedule an appointment with their doctor immediately. While very rare, it is possible for men to get breast cancer.
“Each woman needs to be aware of her personal risk for breast cancer and make an informed decision with her doctor about when and how often she should be screened," Argetsinger said.
Although the causes of breast cancer are still unknown, some factors may increase a woman's chances of getting the disease:
• Getting older - most women are diagnosed when they are 50 years of age or older
• Having a first menstrual period younger than the age of 12
• Starting menopause older than 55 years of age
• Never giving birth, or giving birth to a first child after age 30
• Not breastfeeding
• Having had breast cancer or some non-cancerous breast diseases
• Having a close family member (parent, sibling, child) who has had breast cancer,
especially at an early age
• Having certain gene mutations such as BRCA 1 or BRCA 2
• Being overweight or obese
• Drinking alcohol
• Not getting enough exercise
• Exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation to the chest area early in life
• Long-term use of hormone replacement therapy
Even if a woman has one or more of these risk factors, it does not mean she will get breast cancer. And, women with few or no risk factors may develop breast cancer. This is why screening is important for all women.
This past June, New York State passed legislation designed to help more women access breast cancer screening. The legislation expands screening hours at hospitals and clinics and removes insurance barriers.
Regularly scheduled breast cancer screening increases the chances that cancer is found in its earliest stages, and the earlier the better. "Great advances have been made in early detection and treatment of breast cancer, and many women diagnosed with the disease are living long, healthy lives," Argetsinger said.
Contact Denise at the Cancer Services Program of the Southern Tier at 607-873-1500 for more information on FREE screenings locally.
Visit the New York State Department of Health website for more information about breast cancer, including prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.