MAYVILLE, N.Y.: - Over the past two decades, the Chautauqua County Cancer Services Program (CSP) has helped thousands of women without insurance get screened for breast cancer. The mission of the CSP is to ensure that women, despite insurance status, have access to mammograms and breast exams.
According to 2016 data from a New York State survey of women ages 50 to 74, uninsured women are less likely to be screened for breast cancer (68%) than women who are insured (80%). In addition, women without a regular health care provider are less likely to be screened (52%) than women who have a regular health care provider (82%).
“The CSP has a very important role in the New York State initiative to make breast cancer screening more accessible - we help uninsured women get screened,” said Christine Schuyler, Director of Health and Human Services. “We know our work contributes greatly to the state’s overall goal of reaching 81.1% of women screened by the year 2020 and saves lives along the way.”
Each year in New York alone, nearly 15,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer, and about 2,600 women die from the disease. Breast cancer is most commonly found in women 50 years old or older. For women ages 50 to 74, who are at average risk for breast cancer (for example, women with no family or personal history of breast cancer, or who do not have the BRCA 1 or BRCA 2 gene mutation), the United States Preventive Services Task Force recommends a mammogram every two years. However, some women may need to be screened younger than age 50 and/or more often based on their risk factors. Having a conversation with your health care provider about your risk factors and a suggested screening schedule are key.
“It’s very important that women have the opportunity to talk with a health care provider about their personal risk for breast cancer and any concerns or questions they may have about breast cancer symptoms,” said Schuyler. “A woman’s best chance for survival is finding breast cancer early through regularly scheduled mammograms. Our program can help women without insurance find a doctor and facilitate this conversation and screening.”
Any woman or man, who has symptoms or changes in their breasts should schedule an appointment with their doctor immediately. Symptoms can include:
- A lump in the breast or armpit;
- Swelling or change in the shape of the breast, including dimples in the skin;
- Itchiness, redness or flaky skin of breast or nipple;
- Pain in the breast or nipple; or
- Discharge from the nipple (including blood) other than breast milk.
“If the screening test is abnormal, our program pays for further testing and provides a case manager who guides clients through those follow-up appointments,” said Schuyler. “If treatment is needed, we help them apply for New York State’s Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program. We support our clients by helping them get all the care and services they may need.”
The Chautauqua County CSP provides breast, cervical and colon cancer screening to eligible New York residents. For more information, please call the CSP at 800-506-9185.
Visit the New York State Department of Health website https://www.health.ny.gov/diseases/cancer/services for more information about CSP and cancer screening services.