Early detection crucial to breast cancer prevention
10/07/2013 - The Daily Athenaeum. By Summer Ratcliff.
Each October, thousands of businesses, organizations and charity groups across the U.S. unite as one force to battle breast cancer during National Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
As a part of this battle, an emphasis is placed on the importance of yearly breast screenings for females.
The American Cancer Society recommends women begin having mammograms at age 40, however, for some women, affording the necessary tests and potential treatments that come after a screening can be difficult or even impossible.
For women in Monongalia County, there are numerous resources to assist in the cost of mammograms and other necessary medical screenings.
One such program, the West Virginia Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program, is available for low-income women who are not properly insured.
“Our program provides free breast and cervical screening for women ages 25 to 64,” said Shelly Dusic, information specialist with WVBCCSP. “We cover the clinical breast exam, pap test, pelvic exam and mammograms if they qualify.
The WVBCCSP covers mammograms for all women ages 50 to 64 and all mammograms for women 40 and older who are considered a high risk for cancer if they qualify financially.
“Our idea of low income is 200 percent of the federal poverty level,” Dusic said. “So, if you’re a family of one and make less than $1,915 a month, you qualify, which is actually very generous.”
Coverage provided by the WVBCCSP does not stop after the mammogram screenings. If a woman enrolled in the program needs further diagnostic screenings or possible cancer treatments, the patient may also qualify for the WVBCCSP Medicaid program. This program will then cover the costs involved with cancer treatments.
At the beginning of 2013, the West Virginia legislature gave WVBCCSP a grant to enroll 1,000 new women in the program.
Of those women, 400 required follow-up services, and because they were enrolled in the WVBCCSP program, they were all able to receive the services they needed.
“I was new to BCCSP at the time, so I promised if my clinics got out there and recruited I would go pink for October, which is why I have pink hair now,” Dusic said. “It’s a really good program, its available to a lot of people, and it does provide a lot of assistance.”
The WVBCCSP is located throughout the state of West Virginia and has six providers in Monongalia County alone.
Women who want to find out if they qualify for the program or a screening location nearby should contact Shelly Dusic by phone at 304-293-2370 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
For more information about WVBCCSP visit http://www.wvdhhr.org/bccsp/.
In addition to providing screenings through local clinics, WVBCCSP provides funding for many women who go to Bonnie’s Bus for their mammography screenings.
Bonnie’s Bus is a mobile mammography unit that travels to sites across West Virginia, offering one-stop breast cancer screenings in convenient places.
“Bonnie’s Bus goes all over West Virginia doing mammograms for women in their community so they don’t have to travel miles and miles to get a mammogram,” said Sara Jane Gainor, director of Bonnie’s Bus mobile mammography program. “We take insurance, Medicare and Medicaid and also try to raise funds for women who have no payment source.”
Gainor said it is important for women to realize the early detection provided by mammograms truly saves lives.
“One in eight women get breast cancer before they die, and the earlier you find it, the better your chances of recovery,” Gainor said. “If you find it really early, you can almost always recover from breast cancer.”
For more information about Bonnie’s Bus, visit http://wvucancer.org/bonnie or find them on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/BonniesBus.