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EDITORIAL: Breast cancer screenings available to uninsured

— “When you take care of yourself, you are taking care of your family.”

This motto, promoted by Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline and Support Program, goes hand-in-hand with Breast Cancer Awareness Month observed in October.

Residents can now obtain a free cancer screening, which includes a mammogram, even if residents are without health insurance and over the age of 40. By calling 435-3653, participants are provided information about the program and directed to their primary care or OB-GYN doctor to make an appointment.

The Governor signed legislation in July that will improve breast cancer detection and help prevent late-stage diagnoses. By law, those performing mammograms are required to inform patients if they have “dense breast” tissue, to explain what this means and to encourage the patient to check with their doctor for additional screenings.

“Some studies show that cancer is more likely in women who have dense breast tissue and the mammogram of a woman with dense breast tissue is often harder to interpret,” said William Barclay, NYS Assemblyman, who supported the legislation in the Assembly.

According to one study, 71 percent of all breast cancers occur in women with dense breast tissue. A similar law passed in Connecticut in 2009 and reports indicate that, with a follow-up ultrasound, nearly double the amount of cancers were found after further screening.

“While many health practitioners have begun to provide additional screenings for women with dense breast tissue, this law will ensure that this type of follow-up will continue to detect tumors, hopefully in their early, more treatable forms. Some cancerous tumors were going undiagnosed in cases where women had a mammogram but also had dense breast tissue. Technology and research has advanced to develop better tools to detect cancer,” Barclay said.

The Adelphi NY Statewide Breast Cancer Hotline & Support trained professionals can be reached at 1-800-877-8077. This hotline was established to help callers receive emotional support as well as information about treatment options and referrals.

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