A mammogram is front-line defense against breast cancer
Delaware County scores high in most health measures and was recently named the healthiest county in Ohio according to a study by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute. But we lag behind in one critical area: the number of women who receive screening mammograms.
Among the 30 counties represented by Susan G. Komen Columbus, Delaware County has one of the lowest percentages of women getting screened. With one of the highest detection rates for late-stage breast cancer, we rank sixth in Ohio for breast cancer mortality, according to the American Cancer Society.
The mammogram is our front-line defense against breast cancer. It can catch cancer in its earliest stages, greatly increasing the chance of survival. How early? Mammograms can find up to 90 percent of breast cancers as many as two years before they can be felt. Women should not wait to find a lump or experience some other symptom to have a mammogram.
Thanks to the generous support of a $65,500 grant from Komen Columbus, which has made our county a priority among its 30-county service area, Grady Memorial Hospital is putting forth an all-out effort to remove the barriers that prevent women from having screenings.
Delaware County as a whole is known for its growth, low unemployment and high level of education, but it still has large pockets of women who do not have insurance coverage for mammograms. Fifteen percent of Ohio women are uninsured and some insurance does not pay for preventive services such as mammograms.
Cost doesn’t have to be a reason to not get screened. In collaboration with Komen Columbus, which holds its annual Race for the Cure on May 19 in downtown Columbus, Grady offers free screening and diagnostic mammograms for uninsured and underinsured women in our county. We’ve made vouchers available through our primary care providers, or you can call the hospital at 740–615-2403 for an appointment. The screenings may be done at the hospital or in the OhioHealth mobile mammography unit, which offers free screenings twice a year at Grace Clinic. We use the latest computer-aided digital technology to receive the best possible picture and most accurate result.
The risk of breast cancer greatly increases with age, and 40 percent of the women in our county are ages 40 and older.
Every woman should have a baseline screening between the ages of 35 and 40 and an annual exam thereafter. Women who have risk factors should talk to their doctor about their screening schedule. Some women believe that they do not need to be screened unless they have a family history of breast cancer, but the vast majority of cancers have no genetic link.
A mammogram takes only 10 or 15 minutes. It may involve a few seconds of discomfort as your breasts are compressed and flattened between plates to get the best image possible, but today’s new equipment has greatly minimized any discomfort.
Grady’s commitment to the early detection and successful treatment of breast cancer will again be reflected by our strong contingent of associates, caregivers, survivors and their loved ones at next month’s Race for the Cure.
Money from Race for the Cure comes back to our community. In addition to free screenings, it pays for support groups, classes, therapy, medication assistance and supplies. For more information about this event or about the services we offer through these grants, contact me at 740–615-2403.
To schedule your mammogram, call 614–566-1111 or 877–566-1112.
Freda Clark, RN, BSN, OCN, is a breast health nurse at Grady Memorial Hospital.