One in eight women will develop invasive breast cancer in their lifetime, which is why regular screenings are so important. Northwest Colorado Health helps ensure women who are 40 and older receive regular breast cancer screenings to catch any signs of the disease early, when chances of survival are highest.
Providers at Northwest Colorado Health offer clinical breast exams to check for lumps or physical changes, and can help patients that qualify schedule a free mammogram through the Women’s Wellness Connection (WWC) program. WWC provides access to mammograms for women who do not have health insurance and aren’t able to pay for breast screenings. Colorado women age 40 to 64 qualify for the program if they have no health insurance, have not had a mammogram in the last 12 months, and meet income requirements.
If abnormalities or cancers are found, the program can also help pay for diagnostic screenings and connect patients with resources to receive treatment. Care Managers at Northwest Colorado Health can also help guide women who do not qualify for the program to resources that may be available to help pay for the screenings that they need.
Last year, Northwest Colorado Health served 102 women with free breast cancer screenings, including mammograms, through Women’s Wellness Connection. So far this year, over 20 women have received access to free breast cancer screenings.
Symptoms of breast cancer are different for different people, and some women do not have symptoms at all. Be aware of the following warning signs, and talk to your doctor if you notice any changes in your breast health:
- New lump in the breast or underarm.
- Thickening or swelling of part of the breast.
- Irritation or dimpling of breast skin.
- Redness or flaky skin in the nipple area or the breast.
- Pulling in of the nipple or pain in the nipple area.
- Nipple discharge other than breast milk, including blood.
- Any change in the size or shape of the breast.
- Pain in any area of the breast.
Staying healthy will lower a woman’s risk of developing cancer, and improve chances of surviving if cancer occurs. While there are many factors that can influence breast cancer risk, and some you cannot change, there are steps women can take to lower their risk of breast cancer:
- Keep a healthy weight
- Exercise regularly
- Don’t drink alcohol, or limit alcoholic drinks
- If you are taking hormone replacement therapy or oral contraceptives, ask your doctor about the risks and find out if it is right for you.
- Breastfeed your children, if possible.
- If you have a family history of breast cancer, talk to your doctor about other ways to lower your risk.
WWC also offers women free Pap Tests to help prevent cervical cancer. The low-cost, integrated health services available at Northwest Colorado Health help women achieve their best, whole-body health at any age. Call to schedule an appointment in Craig at 970-824-8233 or Steamboat Springs at 970-879-1632 or visit www.northwestcoloradohealth.org.