Abate: With cancer, early detection saves lives

Abate: With cancer, early detection saves lives


In recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Cancer Services Program of Cayuga, Cortland and Tompkins Counties is raising awareness about the importance of mammograms for the early detection of breast cancer. The mission of the Cancer Services Program is to ensure that uninsured or underinsured women have access to life-saving mammograms.

One out of eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime. A mammogram is the best way to find breast cancer early, when it may be easier to treat. Having regular mammograms can lower the risk of dying from breast cancer.

Compared to women who have insurance, uninsured women are less likely to be screened (80 percent compared to 68 percent), according to 2016 data from a New York state survey of women ages 50 to 74. Compared to women with a regular health care provider, women without a regular health care provider are less likely to be screened (82 percent compared to 52 percent).

The Cancer Services Program makes sure those women who are least likely to have access to health care services get critical breast cancer screening. This program’s services don’t stop at screening. If the screening test finds something abnormal, we provide for further testing and guide clients through their follow-up appointments. If treatment is needed, we help eligible clients apply for New York state’s Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program. We support our clients by helping them get all the care and services they may need.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in New York state, with more than 15,000 women diagnosed each year. For women who are at average risk for breast cancer (for example, they have no family or personal history of breast cancer, or genetic risk), the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends a mammogram every two years between 50 and 74 years of age. However, some women may need to be screened younger than age 50 or more often based on their risk factors or symptoms.

Any woman, or man, who has symptoms or changes in their breasts should schedule an appointment with their doctor immediately. Symptoms can include:

• A lump in the breast or armpit

• Swelling or change in the shape of the breast, including dimples in the skin

• Itchiness, redness or flaky skin on breast or nipple

• Pain in the breast or nipple

• Discharge from the nipple (including blood) other than breast milk

It’s very important that women talk with a health care provider about their personal risk for breast cancer and any concerns or questions they may have about breast cancer symptoms. A woman’s best chance for survival is finding breast cancer early through regularly scheduled mammograms. We can help women without insurance find a regular doctor to talk about a screening if it’s needed.

The Cancer Services Program of Cayuga, Cortland and Tompkins Counties provides breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to eligible New York residents. Call the Cancer Services Program at (833) 837-4931. Visit the state Department of Health website at health.ny.gov for more information about breast cancer, including prevention, diagnosis, and treatment.

Kimberly Abate is the senior public health educator for the Cayuga County Health Department and the coordinator for the Cayuga County Cancer Services Program.


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