Breast Cancer Awareness Month good time to schedule mammogram

Breast Cancer Awareness Month good time to schedule mammogram The annual October observance of Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a good time for women to schedule a mammogram, says a state health official.

"It's so important for women to have regular mammograms and pap tests because they find breast and cervical cancer in the earliest, most treatable stages," said Patty Lihs, education coordinator for All Women Count!, the state's breast and cervical cancer control program. "Mammograms can find breast lumps up to two years before they can be felt, which means less surgery and a better chance to get well. Pap test find cervical cancer long before signs and symptoms show up and the disease is nearly 100 percent curable when detected early."

Lihs said the All Women Count! (AWC) program can help cover the cost of mammograms and pap smears for women who don't have insurance or cannot pay the deductible or co-payment of their insurance. The AWC program serves women 30-64 years of age for pap tests and women 50-64 for mammograms. Screening services are delivered through a network of doctors' offices, mammography units, and health clinics that are paid directly by the program.

Since 1997 AWC has screened 4,700 South Dakota women, diagnosing 43 cases of breast cancer and two cases of cervical cancer. The program is a member of the South Dakota Women's Cancer Network, a coalition of public and private sector groups involved in cancer control.

To find out about eligibility for these no-cost screenings, call All Women Count! at 1-800-738-2301, call a local community health services office, or visit the Web at cancer.htm.

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