Surprising Barriers Prevent Women From Seeking Breast Cancer Screening

Barbara knew that regular mammograms, breast exams by her doctor, and breast self-exams could detect cancer early and potentially save her life. Yet she did not know where to get early detection services locally until she went to the beauty salon, where her stylist handed her a brochure on services available in her community.

Barbara is not alone. Surprisingly, cost is not always the primary barrier to seeking early detection. Even among women with Medicare coverage for mammograms, 63 percent are not obtaining the procedure.

Fear of mammograms, cultural beliefs, and lack of transportation and childcare are common barriers that prevented 65 percent of women age 50 and older from obtaining screening mammograms within the past year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Lifesaving Benefits Of Early Detection

However, if breast cancer is diagnosed in its earliest stage, the vast majority of women can be successfully treated and have more treatment options. Regular examination is the key. CDC recommends that women have screening mammograms and clinical breast exams and perform breast self-exams.

New Community Programs Motivate Women To Seek Services

New community programs are motivating women and providing support services to help them practice early detection. Schenectady, New York's program distributes information about early detection to African-American women via churches and beauty salons. In Chicago, Illinois, staff trusted by the Latina community were hired to create and implement an outreach program. In Anchorage, Alaska, a local cab company provides discounted fares for underserved women, such as Alaska Natives, African Americans, Latinas, and Pacific Islanders, traveling to mammogram appointments.

Landmark Summit on Breast Cancer

These programs and others were featured in an April teleconference highlighting successful early detection strategies. Over 15,000 participants learned about creative ways to reach underserved women and how to replicate them in their own communities.

The teleconference was sponsored by the CDC's National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program and Avon's Breast Cancer Awareness Crusade, which have worked together since 1993 to promote breast health and early detection. For more information about mammograms and other early detection services, call the National Cancer Institute's hotline at 1-800-4-CANCER. (NAPSI)

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