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Breast Cancer Screening

Have you seen any pink recently? Probably so. It’s October, so pink promotions to raise awareness of breast cancer and remind women to get screened fill the media. Breast cancer is the second-most common cancer for women in the US. Screenings can help find the disease early when it is easier to treat. Being aware is an essential first step. The next step for women is to work with their healthcare providers to keep themselves up to date on the screenings they need to stay healthy. Here are answers to common questions to help you take action:

What tests screen for breast cancer?
Mammograms are low-dose, X-ray images that can help doctors find breast cancer early. Mammograms may find signs of breast cancer years before a lump can be felt. Some women may also need a breast ultrasound or breast MRI.

When should women undergo breast cancer screenings?
If you’re a woman age 40 or older, talk with your provider about when to start scheduling mammograms and how often to screen. Women with risk factors like a family history of breast cancer or a genetic mutation should talk with their provider to see what tests are right for them, and when they should start.

How will I pay for screening?
Most insurance covers mammograms for breast cancer screening at no cost to the patient. If you or someone you know needs help paying for a breast cancer screening, SEARHC has resources available to help. Women who are low-income, uninsured, or unable to pay their portion of the bill, may be eligible to enroll in the SEARHC WISEWOMAN/Women’s Health Program. This program provides free breast and cervical cancer screening (mammograms, Pap tests, and HPV tests) as well as needed follow-up services to eligible women. The priority age group is 40 – 64 years old. For more information, please call 1.888.388.8782.

Where can I have breast cancer screening?
SEARHC offers mammograms at the Ethel Lund Medical Center in Juneau, the Mt. Edgecumbe Medical Center in Sitka, and the Wrangell Medical Center. SEARHC also sponsors mobile mammography clinics in several other locations throughout Southeast Alaska. For more information or to schedule an appointment with your provider, please call your local clinic.

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