Local program offers free breast cancer screening for people without health insurance

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UTICA — In a study of 32 community health centers across the U.S., researchers found that breast cancer screening rates from 2019 to 2020 dropped by 8%, largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even before COVID-19, several communities of color and people with lower incomes had lower breast cancer screening rates, higher rates of death from breast cancer and more barriers getting care.

The Cancer Services Program (CSP) of the Central Region helps people without health insurance get free breast, cervical and colorectal cancer screening. The program works to remove the barriers that prevent people from getting care, such as cost, lack of transportation, and access to appointments after normal work hours.

If any follow-up tests are needed, the CSP will provide those tests too. If breast cancer is found, the CSP helps clients who qualify enroll in the state Medicaid Cancer Treatment Program where they will have full Medicaid coverage during treatment.

According to the study published in “Cancer,” an 8% drop in breast cancer screening translates to 47,517 fewer mammograms and 242 missed breast cancer diagnoses among patients in the 32 health centers. Regular mammograms are the key to finding breast cancer early when treatment may work best. A delay in screening could mean that some breast cancers go undetected in earlier stages.

The CSP urges women to talk to their health care providers about scheduling their mammograms. People who do not have health insurance, are ages 40 and older, and who qualify, can contact the CSP of the Central Region to enroll and find a provider near them. Call 1-888-345-0225.

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