October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month and it is a great time to remember how important it is to get tested for breast cancer and to raise awareness for this disease. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many women have postponed their yearly mammograms due to hospital and city shutdowns, and fears of contracting disease by going to the hospital. Hospitals now have strict protocols in place to keep patient’s safe while getting their mammograms done, so it is time to get back to scheduling appointments and get back to taking care of our overall health.
Early detection is key to properly diagnose and treat breast cancer. Breast cancer is still the most common cancer in women in the United States and is the second leading cause of cancerrelated death. Women who get regular mammograms have a 25% less chance of having advanced breast cancer and a 40% less chance of dying of breast cancer in 10 years. This is why we recommend that women be aware of their individual and family risk for breast cancer and talk to their doctor about when to start screening. The American Cancer Society recommends women be screened at ages 40-44 if they choose to do so. However, some women who are at higher risk may begin screening earlier. ACS recommends you have yearly mammogram screenings for patients 45-55, preferably at the same center so images can be compared for subtle changes. Women should also perform home self-exams to know how their breasts normally look and feel and report any breast changes to their health care provider right away. Performing self-exams monthly may save your life in early detection as well.
Mammograms are a part of a Well Woman Exam, which is your yearly wellness exam that you have done with your Primary Care Provider or OB/ GYN once a year. That is a great time to discuss any concerns about your overall health, have lab work done, have a PAP smear and arrange your mammograms at your hospital of choice. If you have not had a mammogram or a Well Woman Exam done within the last year, please contact your health care provider to get this up to date. Patients who are uninsured can also have these preventative services done at no cost through the Take Charge! Oklahoma program. Our providers at FHCSO are certified to do these exams in our various clinics. This program helps bring access to these important preventative services to those who would otherwise not be able to get them due to cost. Together we can work towards the goal of both preventing breast cancer and preventing early deaths from this devastating disease. For more information about mammograms or the Take Charge! Program, contact any of our FHCSO clinics.
FHCSO provides medical, dental, pharmacy and behavioral healthcare staff. FHCSO is a public, non-profit organization that receives federal funding to provide services to all individuals regardless of their ability to pay. FHCSO files private insurances, Medicare, Medicaid, Soonercare, and most other insurances are accepted. Uninsured patients are given a fee based on a sliding scale according to income. Visit www.fhcso.org for more information.