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My mother is 50 years old and has never had a mammogram. She has lived in Florida for about 26 years now and has not had health insurance since my father passed away seven years ago. However, due to the economy and her low income, she can not afford health insurance and her employer does not offer it to their employees either. Since October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I was hoping to find an affordable way for her to get screened?
— Worried Daughter in Miami
In honor of National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, I thought we would answer a breast cancer-related question. To see more on the serious and important topic of screening for breast cancer
Approximately one in eight women will be diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetimes. The fact that breast cancer is so common makes screening very important. If caught early, breast cancer can often be surgically cured before it spreads. Mammograms are recommended yearly, starting at forty, to screen for breast cancer. Frequent self breast examinations can also be useful for finding suspicious lumps, but are not a substitute for yearly mammograms and clinical breast exams. Sometimes breast cancer screening is recommended at a younger age when there is a strong family history of breast cancer or a known family history of having the BRCA gene.
It’s unfortunate that your mother does not have health insurance. Mammograms can be very expensive without insurance. Luckily many communities have programs to offer mammograms to patients with little or no health insurance. The Centers for Disease Control website has a list of breast cancer screening resources by state. You can also go to the American Cancer Society website, enter your zip code, and find the ACS branch closest to her and see what breast cancer screenings they offer. Many of the programs offer free breast cancer screening for women without insurance. Good luck with your search and don’t give up.
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