October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Connecticut unfortunately has the distinction of being the state with the highest incidence of breast cancer.
Early detection can save lives, and that’s why it is so important for women to get a mammogram.
Susan G. Komen Southern New England has a program to make sure some of the women most at risk are getting screened.
“So I think that going into the community and reaching the population that is underserved is very important because they have other stresses in their lives, they have other priorities, so just reminding them that their health is important is important to me,” said Rashae Banks, who is a community breast navigator with Susan G. Komen Southern New England.
“As a community breast navigator, I educate underserved women about breast health and breast cancer and then we refer them to UConn Health to receive mammograms,” Banks said.
Helping the underserved population in Connecticut, and getting them screened early, is vital.
“African American women and Latino women are disproportionately affected by breast cancer because they have a higher mortality rates, they have more aggressive cancers and they're more difficult to treat,” Banks said.
Treslyn St. Martin said “I had no intention of going for a breast exam when she convinced me that it's important and it's okay.”
St. Martin’s first screening was abnormal, but after a second screening, she was given the all clear.
Not only does the navigator program provide free screenings, it also helps women with parking costs or bus fares.
“They're so grateful to get that extra attention, that extra push to go get their mammograms, because once again, they forget, women we deal with so many things in our daily lives, so just having someone to focus on their health, specifically their breast health, they're really receptive to the program, they’re really grateful,” Banks said.
Getting women in for yearly mammograms is so important because early detection saves lives. The age to start screening is 40.
“Approximately 1 in 8 women will come down with breast cancer in their lifetime,” said Dr. Diana James, the director of Breast Imaging at Jefferson Radiology.
She said with new 3D mammograms, the ability to find and fight breast cancer is better than ever.
“It increases your ability to find breast cancer in about 40 percent…that's a huge increase,” James said.
Mammograms aren't the only tool to detect breast cancer. In certain patients, ultrasounds or MRI’s are used. Women should contact their doctors with any questions about their risks.
For more information on Susan G. Komen Southern New England, click here.
For more information about Jefferson Radiology, click here.
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