By Floyd Ingram
HOUSTON -- Ignoring breast cancer is not a cure.
Early detection and treatment is the key to beating breast cancer, yet many women won’t seek treatment out of ignorance, financial concerns or the real fear they will be told they have cancer.
“Being told that you have breast cancer is not the end,” saidLouisa Denson , three-time breast cancer survivor and Director of Women’s Health for the Mississippi State Department of Health. “If it is caught early there is a 95-percent chance it can be cured. I’m living proof.”
Denson said the state has tons of information women can use to learn about breast cancer and they also have programs to financially help those who suspect they have breast cancer.
“All women should do a monthly breast exam and have their physician conduct a clinical exam annually,” said Denson. “The Mississippi Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program strives for early detection in those women at highest risk.”
Typically those at highest risk are the uninsured, the medically underserved, minorities and elderly women.
And that is where local health departments and the Mississippi State Department of Health come in.
With federal and matching funds select health department clinics, community health centers and private providers offer their services to uninsured women between the ages of 40 and 64.
Mammography screening is available through contracted providers to uninsured women between 50 and 54 year of ages. Women 40 to 49 are eligible for screening mammograms when special funding is available.
Special exceptions are available for those women between the ages of 18 and 39, but they must receive prior approval
“If they meet the criteria we can help them get Medicaid assistance,” said Denson. “But I can’t stress how important it is to get that checkup, find out what you are up against and then contact us.”
Denson also pointed out four out of five lumps are benign or not cancerous, but that can only be determined by a doctor.
Some private insurance companies help pay for mammograms, said Denson. Medicare will pay part for the cost of a screening mammogram every two years for women 65 and older. She said financial assistance can often be found when it is available for those who qualify and are without insurance, Medicare or Medicaid.
“Finding a lump is pretty scary,” said Denson. “Women need to do something about it if they suspect anything. You’ve got to be diligent and take charge of your own health.”
Denson again said finding a lump is not the end and women need to be aggressive in screening themselves and seeking treatment.
“You have to have the right attitude to beat this disease,” said Denson. “A positive attitude, treatment and support of family and friends can help you beat breast cancer.”
For more information about breast cancer screening call 601-576-7466.