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A woman’s best friend is herself

By Staff | Oct 20, 2008

Women are encouraged to be their own best friend in October especially Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

It is no secret a woman’s risk of developing breast cancer increases as she gets older. According to statistics from the American Cancer Society, over 75 percent of the diagnoses are in women over 50 years of age. “A woman of 70 is almost twice as likely to develop breast cancer in the next year as a woman aged 50.”

Women are encouraged to give themselves the best gift of all the peace of mind associated with the knowledge there is no breast cancer. Mammograms should be scheduled annually.

Guidelines for the early detection of breast cancer for women age 40 and over includes clinical breast exam every year, breast self-exam every month and mammogram every year.

For women ages 20-39, a clinical breast exam is recommended every three years. Individuals in this age group should conduct breast self-exam every month.

Some women may be eligible to receive cancer screening tests at no cost in Iowa. At Emmet County Public Health, director Kathy Preston and Betty Ann Rosfjord, local coordinator of the Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, explained how the program works and its benefits.

Rosfjord said there are guidelines to be met, including that the individual:

n Is age 40 years or over (Women under age 40 may be eligible for services

n Is at or below 250 percent of the federal poverty income level.

n Has no health insurance.

n Has insurance that does not cover these services.

n Cannot pay insurance deductibles or co-payments.

n Has no Medicare Part B coverage.

She said that it is possible to receive cancer screening tests at no cost through the BCC program. “We encourage every woman to come in and check out the program. Some may have a very high deductible and may be eligible for the program. Others may have no insurance at all or are underinsured.”

Through the program, women are offered the following services:

n Clinical breast exams.

n Mammograms.

n Pap tests.

n Pelvic exams.

n Limited diagnostic tests.

Rosfjord said the process begins with application information. “There is no cost to enroll and it’s quite easy,” she pointed out. Participants must re-enroll into the program annually.

Once the individual meets the required guidelines, an appointment can be scheduled with the doctor of choice. “The screening forms must be taken to the doctor’s appointment.”

The selected physician must be a provider who is registered with the BCC program in order to receive funding. “All of the doctors in the surrounding area are providers,” Preston said.

The director said Pap tests are recommended at 18 years of age or if the person becomes sexually active before that age. The Pap test should be conducted annually.

If a diagnosis involves cancer or a pre-cancerous condition, the patient approved for the BCC program may possibly receive referral for breast and cervical cancer treatment coverage.

It’s vital for women to pay attention to body symptoms. Monthly self-breast exam are necessary. If a lump is found, seek medical attention immediately.

The importance of early detection can never be stressed enough.

For more information on the BCC program, call 712-362-2490 between 8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Questions left on the answering machine will also be answered providing the caller leaves a name and callback number.