Cancer screening program close to reaching its goal

Cancer screening program close to reaching its goal A state program that provides breast cancer screening to eligible women is close to its goal of screening 2,000 women by the year 2000.

"Through July, we had screened 1,650 women for breast or cervical cancer and diagnosed 13 cases of breast cancer," said Beth Davis, public education coordinator for All Women Count!, the Department of Health's breast and cervical cancer control program. "As National Breast Cancer Awareness Month approaches, it's gratifying to know that so many women who need mammograms and Pap tests have been able to get them through this program."

Davis said All Women Count! helps pay for mammograms, Pap tests and other related tests for women who meet income guidelines and are 40-64 years of age for Pap smears and 50-64 years for mammograms. Detailed eligibility information is available from local community health nursing offices, from the department at 1-800-738-2301, or on the web at www.state.sd.us/doh/Disease2/cancer.htm.

More than 900 individual providers and health facilities in the state now deliver services for the program.

"Regular screening is so important to detecting breast and cervical cancer at the earliest, most treatable stages," said Davis. "Unfortunately, the cost of mammograms and Pap tests can be a barrier for women who don't have health insurance or, if they do have insurance, can't afford the deductible or co-payment. The aim of All Women Count! is to make sure those costs don't keep such women from getting these lifesaving tests."

Davis said All Women Count! is also working with the Avera Cancer Institute in Sioux Falls and the Cancer Care Institute at Rapid City to recruit South Dakota participants for a national breast cancer prevention study. The STAR (Study of Tamoxifen and Raloxifene) is recruiting 22,000 postmenopausal women at increased risk of breast cancer to determine whether the osteoporosis prevention drug raloxifene is as effective in reducing the chance of developing breast cancer as tamoxifen has proved to be.

For information about All Women Count! or the STAR, call the Department of Health at 1-800-738-2301. Breast and cervical cancer information is also available on the program's web site at www.state.sd.us/Disease2/cancer.htm.

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