An innovative program in La Porte County is helping women have access to mammography screening for the detection of breast cancer regardless of financial barriers.
The Breast Cancer Project, established by the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte (HFL) with a grant from the Indiana Breast Cancer Awareness Trust (IBCAT) is a comprehensive effort in La Porte County to encourage and educate women about breast health and the importance of early detection.
The project also provides screening mammograms and diagnostic imaging services to uninsured or underinsured women who meet the American Cancer Society’s high-risk criteria, or who are age 40 or older.
During breast cancer awareness month, local experts are weighing in on the importance of mammography screening.
“Mammography screening is the only thing that has been proven to reduce breast cancer mortality,” said Dr. Krishna Pillai, medical director of the Women’s Imaging Center at La Porte Hospital. In short, it saves lives.
According to health data available at http://www.ten2030.org/, the HFL’s data website powered by their vision to be among the 10 healthiest communities in Indiana by the year 2030, the breast cancer incidence rate has improved slightly in La Porte County. Between 2010-2014, the breast cancer incidence rate was 116.5 cases per 100,000 females, and between 2011-2015, that number dropped to 112.3.
But much work remains to be done, especially in overcoming any incorrect or preconceived notions about the risks or necessity of mammography screening.
“We strongly recommend women over age 50 get a mammogram at least every other year if not every year, and women ages 40 to 50 should get screening mammography as well,” Pillai said. “There are many sources of information out there about mammography screening, and some of them differ about exactly when you should have a screening mammogram. But they all uniformly agree that screening mammography saves lives because of reduced risk of breast cancer death,” Pillai said.
“As far as the risks of screening mammography – there are very few. Some people worry about radiation exposure, but the radiation is close to as much as you would get from being out in the sun for a few weeks or taking an airplane from one side of the country to the other,” Pillai added.
Pillai said it’s best for women to speak with their primary care provider, OB/GYN provider, or even a geneticist about the need for screening mammography or other forms of diagnostic imaging for breast health. Other common diagnostic imaging services include ultrasound and breast MRI.
To see if you or someone you love qualifies for a FREE voucher for a mammogram and to learn more about the Breast Cancer Project, please visit https://hflaporte.org/mammogram-program. The three criteria are:
- age 40 and older or meet high-risk status defined by the ACS
- uninsured, underinsured, or participating in a High Deductible Health Care Plan
- meet the income guidelines presented at the web link.
Women who meet these three criteria should schedule an appointment with a physician located in La Porte County. Print the document found at the web link provided and bring it to your appointment and reference the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte’s mammogram voucher program.
Physician offices who are not familiar with the program or do not have the paperwork for the mammogram voucher may call the HFL at 219-326-2471 to request copies to keep on hand. It’s best to do so while the patient is at the office so you can secure their signature and information.
The mission of the Healthcare Foundation of La Porte is to empower our residents to live healthy and well in and around La Porte, Indiana. This not for profit foundation’s vision is for La Porte to be among the 10 healthiest communities in Indiana by 2030. You can learn more about how we support the community and get involved in our efforts at hflaporte.org or by calling 219-326-2471.