Breast cancer is the most common cancer among American women, except for skin cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. The key to preventing deaths from breast cancer is to find it early, when it is still small and easier to treat.
There are tests that a woman can have to check for breast cancer and find it early, sometimes years before it is large enough to be felt. A mammogram uses X-ray pictures of the breast to look for early signs of breast cancer. The health care provider or the facility that performed the mammogram will give you a report of your results.
If the results are “normal” — meaning nothing concerning was found — it is usually recommended that you continue to get mammograms regularly. Recent mammograms are compared to previous ones to look for changes.
An “abnormal” mammogram does not necessarily mean that cancer is present, but further testing is usually needed. Your health care provider will order more tests and possibly additional mammograms. You may be referred to another doctor who specializes in breast problems.
The Maryland Breast and Cervical Cancer Program recommends a yearly clinical breast exam and a yearly mammogram starting at age 40.
If you have health care insurance: Most insurance plans pay for breast cancer screening tests. Check with your insurer to learn about your benefits and coverage either by phone or on the company’s website. Often, you can get a mammogram at no cost to you.
If you do not have insurance, or if it does not cover breast cancer screening tests in full, the Carroll County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program can provide eligible women with no-cost breast cancer screening and any necessary follow-up testing. Call 410-876-4423 for more information and to see if you qualify.
The Breast and Cervical Cancer program can also provide patient navigation services to eligible women, including help with:
· Paying co-pays, deductibles or co-insurance;
· Scheduling appointments;
· Finding transportation to appointments;
· Language interpretation services;
· Making any needed follow-up appointments.
If you have questions, call the Carroll County Health Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program at 410-876-4423.
Anne Grauel, M.P.H., is a community health educator, Cigarette Restitution Fund Program, with the Carroll County Health Department.