Breast Cancer Is Becoming All Too Common


The news will shatter the world of one woman in every eight.

Breast cancer.

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, but one month a year is hardly enough when so many women will be diagnosed with the disease.

So, the Health Services Advisory Group is conducting a series of statewide programs for both health care providers and the general public in rural Arizona.

The goal of the programs is to educate the professionals of the need for breast cancer awareness and screening services in the rural areas of the state; and with the public it is to reinforce the necessity of mammography and breast exams. The target audience in the general public is primarily Arizona seniors in rural areas, according to a press release from HSAG.

Arizona has low mammography screening rates. Only 56 percent of Arizona female Medicare beneficiaries age 65 and older received a mammogram in a two-year period. Even lower rates for biennial mammography services are recorded for minority women age 65 and older.

Some rural Arizona counties chart mammography rates that are alarmingly low. In Apache County not quite 22 percent of women between 50 and 67 get mammograms every two years. In Navajo County, the rate is a little more than 42 percent. Gila County's rate is about 57 percent, according to a graph provided by HSAG.

HSAG has created the Mammography Momentum Panel to foster the early detection and treatment of breast cancer.

Dr Anita Mucko, chief medical officer for HSAG said there are three main messages that the organization wants to share with women during Breast Cancer Awareness Month:

Mammography is still a woman's best line of defense against breast cancer;

Women need to get mammograms for life because the chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer increases with age;

Cost issues should not prevent Arizona women from getting a mammogram, there are free and reduced cost services available, such as those provided by the Mobile On-Site Mammography (M.O.M.) vans that visit rural areas.

HSAG has established itself as an industry leader in providing information for health care improvement. Founded in 1979 by a group of medical professionals, HSAG is a national quality review organization.

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