Beginning this month, the hospital will offer mammograms to women with no symptoms of breast cancer for $45, rather than the usual $125. No physician referral is necessary, but women with such symptoms as pain or lumps in their breasts will be told to contact their doctors if they call for a screening.
"The announcement is welcome news to women in the region," said Linda Wieczynski, nurse coordinator of the hospital's breast-screeningprogram. "In the past, many women neglected the recommended mammograms because Medicare and insurance carriers did not cover the exams and the cost was prohibitive.
"The reduced rate offers area residents the opportunity to have the screening most credited for the early detection and prevention of breast cancer."
The program is offered as part of the American Cancer Society's statewide effort to provide breast screenings for women over 35. The grant from the Health Services Cost Review Commission will run for about three years, with screenings offered two afternoons a week and during some early evening hours.
Twenty to 25 sessions are expected per week, but the number canbe increased depending on the response.
Mammographies done in conjunction with physical examinations provide the most accurate diagnosis of breast cancer. The recommended schedule of examination is:
*For women under 40:
Examine your breasts monthly. Have a breast exam by your doctor at least every three years, and have a baseline mammogram done between the ages of 35 and 39.
* For women between 40and 49:
Examine your breasts monthly. Have a breast exam by your doctor every year, and have a mammogram every one to two years.
* For women age 50 and over:
Examine your breasts monthly. Have a breast exam by your doctor every year, and have a mammogram every year.
During the screening process, patients will receive counseling and a half-hour session, using models, on self-examination.
HARBOR HOSPITAL CENTER
Opened: 1903 at Light Street, 1968 at present location.
Address: 3001 South Harbor Street, Baltimore.
Phone: 347-3840 (physician referral), 347-3200 (main hospital).
Number of beds: 376.
Services available: Acute inpatientcare; same-day surgery; centralized ambulatory testing; obstetrics; pediatrics; dedicated endoscopy suite; chest diagnostic center; chemical dependency unit; specialties in scoliosis, radiology (MRI, CT-scan), cardiac CATH lab; state's only sick child day care.