“We especially want to reach women age 40 to 64,”said Teresa Sington, of the Health Department of Northwest Michigan. She coordinates the Breast & Cervical Cancer Control Program for a seven-county region that includes Antrim County. “It’s recommended they receive a mammogram every year.”
Although most breast cancers occur in women after age 40, younger women and even some men may find breast lumps that require a mammogram to diagnose breast cancer. “Our goal is to be sure every single person in Antrim County who wants a mammogram gets one,” said Dee Lynch of the High Tea Board of Directors. “Although some people have health insurance that covers mammograms, many do not. We are here to be sure that Antrim County residents without mammogram coverage get the mammograms they need.”
The Health Department and High Tea share a goal to reduce the number of breast cancer deaths in Antrim County. “According to data from the National Cancer Institute, Antrim County has the second highest annual death rate in Michigan for females of all ages,” said Sington. There were an average of six breast cancer deaths in Antrim County over 2000 to 2004, the most recent data available, she said.
Sington said about 25% of the women who receive mammograms through the Health Department’s Breast & Cervical Cancer Screening Control Program are referred for further diagnostic testing, which is covered by the program. About 1% are diagnosed with breast cancer. Costs of cancer treatment are covered by the Medicaid Treatment Act.
Mammograms reduce breast cancer deaths by identifying cancers when they are smaller and easier to treat. “As devastating as a cancer diagnosis is, breast cancer is a very treatable disease, especially when it is discovered early.”
Northwest Michigan Community Health Agency is mandated by the Michigan Public Health Code to promote wellness, prevent disease, provide quality healthcare, address health problems of vulnerable populations, and protect the environment for the residents and visitors of Antrim, Charlevoix, Emmet, and Otsego counties. For additional information or to schedule a mammogram appointment, call 800-432-4121.