Breast cancer is a disease that affects the health of one in eight American women in their lifetime. Breast cancer is also a disease that can be detected through mammography, or digital imaging of the breast. When found in its early stages, breast cancer can be easier to treat and may have better outcomes. A mammogram can detect small masses and changes in the breast that may be too small or too deep to detect through a clinical exam.
“We’re talking about a disease that will affect one out of eight women in their lifetimes,” said Erie County Commissioner of Health Dr. Gale Burstein. “Women should have a mammogram according to the United States Preventive Services Task Force’s recommended schedule where women aged 50 to 74 years at average risk for breast cancer get a mammogram every two years. Women aged 40 to 49 years should talk to their doctor or other health care professional about when to start and how often to get a mammogram.”
All women should talk to their health care provider about any family history of breast cancer and their personal risk for this disease. Any woman or man who notices changes or pain in their breasts should make an appointment with their health care provider immediately.
Mammography for Women with Disabilities or Chronic Illnesses
“One aspect of breast cancer screening that we want to highlight this year is mammography for women who are living with disabilities or a condition that limits their mobility,” continued Dr. Burstein. “Women between the ages of 50 and 77 with disabilities are less likely to have had a mammogram in the past two years than women without a disability.” She continued, “A disability should not be a barrier to regular mammography screenings and preventive care; imaging centers and hospitals can help with any needed accommodations.”
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) offers questions that women can ask as they schedule a mammogram and prepare for their appointment:
· How should I dress?
· How do I prepare if I use a wheelchair or a scooter?
· Can the machine be adjusted so I can remain seated?
· How long is the appointment and can I have more time if I need it?
Let the scheduling staff, radiology technicians, or radiologist know if you can/cannot:
· Sit upright with or without assistance.
· Lift and move your arms.
· Transfer from your chair/scooter.
· Undress/dress without assistance.
When preparing for your mammogram, remember:
· Wear a blouse that opens in the front.
· Wear a bra that you can remove easily.
· Do not wear deodorant or body powder under your arms.
· If you have any disability-related concerns, discuss them with your primary care physician, women’s health specialist, radiologist, physician’s assistant, or other healthcare professional.
Mammograms for Uninsured and Uninsured Women
The Erie County Cancer Services Program (ECCSP) connects eligible Erie County residents with cancer screening for breast, cervical and colorectal cancer. More than 100 health care providers in Erie County are designated locations that can provide appropriate screenings through this program for uninsured and underinsured men and women.
ECCSP resources do not end with the screening. “If someone’s mammogram shows an abnormal result that needs further diagnostic testing, we guide those individuals through the additional appointments and can cover those costs. For anyone who requires cancer treatment, we will help them to apply for New York State’s Medicaid Cancer Treatment program, which will cover all medical costs including the cost of cancer treatment,” explained Michelle Wysocki, ECCSP director. Those options also apply for cervical and colorectal cancer screenings.
Anyone with questions about eligibility or other questions about Erie County’s Cancer Services Program can call 716-858-7376 or visit www.erie.gov/cancerservices.
Erie County Department of Health: http://www.erie.gov/health
Erie County Cancer Services Program: http://www.erie.gov/cancerservices
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Breast Cancer: http://www.cdc.gov/cancer/breast