The efforts will include Adair, Adams, Audubon, Cass, Mills and Pottawattamie counties.“The majority of these dollars will go to provide mammograms for people who can’t afford it,” she said. Staff members are working with health care officials in those counties to set up free screenings and make themselves available to give educational presentations, said Clodagh Slevin, outreach coordinator.
Jennie extended its reach last year after receiving the same kind of grant from Komen, said Donna Hubbell, vice president of patient safety and quality.
“I think what this grant has given us is the ability to reach out a little bit further and provide some free mammograms and reach out to some of the outlying counties that we probably didn’t reach before,” she said. “Now we can reach out to those women who are uninsured or under-insured. “It’s given us the opportunity to go to the MICAH House and give services to those women who don’t come here because they don’t have any money.”
The mammography staff at Jennie Edmundson Hospital: (from left) mammographers Pam Wright, Stacy Gant, Marcy Powles and Dr. Annabel Galva, head of breast imaging.
Women should start getting annual mammograms at age 40 – younger, if their mother or sister has had breast cancer, Galva said. And if they have noticed a lump during a self-exam, they should tell their health care professional, she said. That would change their mammogram from a routine screening to a diagnostic test, which might mean taking images from different views and perhaps following up with an ultrasound.
“You are your best friend,” she said. “You memorize what’s normal for your breast. Your doctor is going to have a hard time doing that seeing you once a year.”
Despite confusing messages from a government task force a couple years ago, mammograms do save lives, Galva said. “We have proven over and over that screening for breast cancer reduces mortality by 20 percent,” she said.
Women 40 or older do not need a doctor’s referral to get a mammogram, but they should bring an address so results can be sent to their primary physicians, said Pam Wright, senior mammographer.
They should also bring results from any prior mammograms and related tests, Galva said. “It could save them a biopsy,” she said.