Original Article Published by Gunnison Country Times
Thursday, October 3rd, 2019

Screenings to promote breast cancer awareness

The Women’s Wellness Connection (WWC) program urges women age 40 and older to talk with their doctors during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October about screening for breast cancer. Women who can’t afford mammograms may be eligible for free screening through the WWC program offered by the Gunnison County Public Health Department.

Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in Colorado among females, killing more than 600 women annually. But when breast cancer is detected early, 98  percent of those diagnosed had a five-year survival. Likewise, when cervical cancer is diagnosed early, 92 percent of women had a five-year survival.

“Breast Cancer Awareness Month is a good time to remind the women in our lives to get screened,” said Kim Bemis, WWC coordinator. “We are proud to work with the Women’s Wellness Connection to offer free mammograms and Pap tests to women who need them but can’t afford them.

“Whether you’re doing it for yourself or for your family, Breast Cancer Awareness Month is the perfect time to get screened for both breast and cervical cancer,” she added. “These screenings could save your life.”

WWC has made Pap tests and mammograms accessible and free for all income-eligible, uninsured or underinsured women.

Low-income and uninsured women are less likely to have been screened for breast cancer. In 2018, only 57.8 percent of Colorado women over 50 whose incomes were below 250 percent of the federal poverty level reported having a mammogram in the past two years. Th at’s compared to 74.8 percent of women with incomes above 250 percent of the federal poverty level.

In 2018, only 36.5 percent of uninsured women over 50 reported having a mammogram in the past two years, compared to 69.7 percent of women who are insured. According to the state health department’s Central Cancer Registry, 74 percent of the 5,034 breast cancers diagnosed each year in Colorado are detected early, with lower early detection rates for Latino, black and uninsured women.

If cancer is detected while enrolled in the WWC program, treatment resources may be available.

WWC has served Colorado’s low-income, uninsured women, for more than 25 years, with about one-third of its almost $6.3 million budget coming from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call 970.641.3244.

For information on National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, visit NationalBreastCancer.org/breast-cancer-awarenessmonth.