Weatherford Democrat

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October 20, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Mammograms save lives

By KATHY SMITH

Mammograms can cut breast cancer deaths by as much as one-third. That is why the American Cancer Society recommends women ages 40 and older be screened for breast cancer with a mammogram once a year.

A mammogram is an X-ray of the breast. It is the best method used to detect breast cancer early and prevent death since the cancer is easier to treat at that point. Using a mammogram for breast cancer screening can reduce death from breast cancer from 20 percent to 35 percent in women ages 50-69 years old.

Due to education about breast cancer, more women are getting mammograms, and the death rate has gone down. However, low-income rural women are at greater risk for dying from breast cancer since fewer of them get mammograms. There are a variety of reasons why low-income rural women may not be getting mammograms. Among them is the fact that they may not have easy access to mammogram screening facilities. Another reason is the cost keeps them away.

Others may just want to avoid the chance they may find out that they have breast cancer.

Unfortunately, as women get older, their chance of developing breast cancer increases. With increasing age, it becomes even more important to be screened regularly. While screenings may not be as readily available in some rural areas, it is often available in nearby medical centers.

Find out if a local hospital does breast screenings. If not, contact a larger urban hospital and inquire if they have mobile mammography units that go out into your rural community, and when and where they will be in your area.

For individuals who may not have transportation to medical services, check to see if your area might have a service to transport rural citizens to urban locations that provide more services. There may be a fee for their service, but that fee may be waived for persons who meet certain income requirements.

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