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Tahlequah Daily Press - 10/21/2017
Oct. 21--SINCE 1985, THE aim of Breast Cancer Awareness has been to promote the importance of mammograms. Area health providers still stand by the claim that early detection, diagnosis and treatment can mean extended life.
"Screening -- or mammography -- has led to earlier diagnosis and a greater chance for effective treatment for many women," said Tera Moore, NeoHealth resource manager.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, breast cancer is the most common cancer in women, regardless of race or ethnicity. It is the most common cause of death from cancer among Hispanic women, and it is the second most common cause of death from cancer among white, black Asian-Pacific Islander, and American Indian-Alaska Native women.
"Breast cancer does not discriminate. Women and men, regardless of age, can be diagnosed with breast cancer," said Erielle Stout, Northeastern Health System
director of patient and public relations.
The lifetime risk of a man getting breast cancer is about 1 in 1,000, according to the American Cancer Society. Breast cancer is about 100 times more common in women than men.
Screenings can be performed at various locations in the area, oftentimes at discounted pricing or free through partnerships.
All 10 NeoHealth locations offer well woman exams, and it partners with several hospitals and agencies to provide discounted services for screenings and testings. NeoHealth has several providers that are certified screeners with the Breast and Cervical Cancer Treatment Program. This program helps providers get Medicaid benefits to eligible women with breast or cervical cancer, including pre-cancerous conditions and early stage cancer, according to Moore.
"NeoHealth works hand in hand with Oklahoma Project Woman, an organization that is a statewide comprehensive program that provides free mammograms, diagnostic procedures and surgical services for Oklahomans with no health insurance and limited financial resources," said Moore.
For Breast Cancer Awareness month, Northeastern Health System is offering a mammography special. Patients can pay a flat fee of $75 for a mammogram screening. They do not need insurance or a physician's order. Patients must be at least 40 years of age. If they do not have a primary care physician, they may visit the NHS Resident Clinic for follow-up care.
"We have had 14 confirmed cancers from our diagnostic mammographies in the last calendar year," said Stout.
In 2004, NHS and the Cherokee Nation formed a company, Cherokee Health Partners, for the purpose of collaboration and the aim of identifying health problems. Cherokee Health Partners can work at both NHS and Hastings, and it has a few mammographers who give screenings, including Kim Fielder.
"We love our patients and want them to come back. We want them to come back every year. Early detection is the best defense," said Fielder.
Fielder said that the technology has changed over the years, which makes it better for patients and technicians. Instead of the old machines which used film to record images, Hastings has a digital machine.
"Digital mammograms give the patient less radiation. It takes less time and there is less discomfort for the patient. It is a real advancement from using film," said Fielder.
Fielder said her office at W.W. Hastings performs 200-250 mammograms a month, and patient comfort is a big concern of Fielder and her co-workers.
"I call it an intimate exam. We want them to have a good comfort level," said Fielder. "We talk a lot to them. If you don't have communication with a patient, they won't talk to you."
The lights in the exam room are set low when a patient comes in so they can begin to feel more relaxed. Water and snacks, a separate changing room, and informational materials are available. For Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the staff offers goodie bags containing a self-examine shower hanger, a coloring book, and a pen and notepad.
"We try to be quick. It only takes about 10 minutes, but we can talk to them for another 10 minutes. Communication is key. Knowledge is power," said Fielder.
According to breastcancer.org, one in every eight women will develop breast cancer in her lifetime. Today, a woman who has been diagnosed with breast cancer in the earliest stages has a 98 percent chance of living at least five years more.
(c)2017 the Tahlequah Daily Press (Tahlequah, Okla.)
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