Free mammograms offered for Breast Health Awareness month

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RBC | The Women’s Wellness Connection urges women ages 40 years and older to talk with their doctors during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October about screening for breast cancer. Women who can not afford mammograms may be eligible for free screening from a local health care provider.

“Breast cancer screenings are critical for women over 50,” said Emily Kinsella, Section Manager of the Women’s Wellness Connection, Colorado Dept. of Public Health and Environment. “Women’s Wellness Connection has made pap tests and mammograms accessible and free for all eligible women. Whether you are doing it for yourself or for your family, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to get screened. Contact your doctor today and schedule your screenings. They could save your life.”

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Colorado among females, killing more than 600 women annually. But when breast cancer is detected early, 98 percent of those diagnosed had a five year survival. Likewise, when cervical cancer is diagnosed early, 92 percent of women had a five year survival.

“In 1988, I was diagnosed with breast cancer, and I was told I had five years left to live,” said Lieutenant Governor Dianne Primavera. “As a survivor of multiple cancer diagnoses, my best advice is to get screened regularly. For me, it meant surviving and now getting to watch my grandbaby grow up.”

Low-income and uninsured women are less likely to be screened for breast cancer. In 2018, only 57.8 percent of Colorado women over 50 whose incomes were below 250 percent of the federal poverty level reported having a mammogram in the past two years compared to 74.8 percent of women with incomes above 250 percent of the federal poverty level. In 2018, only 36.5 percent of uninsured women over 50 reported having a mammogram in the past two years compared to 69.7 percent of women who are insured. According to the health department’s central cancer registry, 74 percent of the 5,034 breast cancers diagnosed each year in Colorado are detected early, with lower early detection rates for Latino, black and uninsured women.

The Women’s Wellness Connection offers free breast and cervical cancer screening to low-income women aged 40 to 64 years through 34 community providers statewide. If cancer is detected while enrolled in the program, treatment resources may be available.

The Women’s Wellness Connection has served Colorado’s low-income women for more than 25 years, with one-third (34 percent) of its almost $6.3 million budget coming from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information on where to find a provider, go to womenswellnessconnection.org or call 1-866-951-WELL (9355). For more information on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, go to NationalBreastCancer.org/breast-cancer-awareness-month.

About Women’s Wellness Connection

Women’s Wellness Connection provides free, confidential breast and cervical cancer screenings; clinical breast exams; Pap tests; mammograms; and navigation services to eligible women at more than 100 clinics through cooperative efforts with multiple statewide providers. Women’s Wellness Connection’s statewide hotline number, 1-866-951-WELL (9355), is made possible through an in-kind donation from the American Cancer Society. ACS staff members operate the hotline to answer questions, provide additional information about the program and help women make appointments with local Women’s Wellness Connection providers.

Special to the Herald Times