focus on females
The two Health Matters public forums on breast and cervical cancer are scheduled for Tuesday, April 8 in Kamiah and Monday, April 14 in Cottonwood. “The forums are designed for women of any age,” said Megan Wilson, FNP, PNP, forum presenter. “The incidence of breast and cervical cancer in America continues to rise, that’s the bad news. The good news is that we’ve developed screening methods to catch each earlier and there is now a vaccine to prevent most forms of HPV, the virus that can cause most forms of cervical cancer.”
About half of all females diagnosed with cervical cancer are between 35 and 55 years old. Many of these women were most likely exposed to one of the high risk types of HPV during their teens and 20s. Of the approximately six million new cases of genital HPV in the United States every year, it is estimated that 74% occur in 15 to 24 year olds.
“The forums will provide an opportunity for mothers and daughters to ask questions about the new vaccine, about risk factors for both cervical and breast cancer, about what screenings are available and when women should begin having pap smears and mammograms,” said Wilson. “Women should begin breast self exams at an early age because it’s no longer a disease just for older women.” A video on BSE will be shown.
Both forums are sponsored by the Inland Northwest Community Foundation and the Boise Affiliate Komen for the Cure. The Komen Foundation is funding 150 free female wellness exams and 50 mammograms for eligible females. The INCF is funding the pap smears portion of the exams. More information and coupons for these exams will be distributed at the forums.
“All of the St. Mary’s providers are conducting the exams through our grants. I’ve seen a number of women who otherwise might not have been seen. Thankfully, most have been healthy, but one woman who had a normal mammogram found a lump through a breast self exam and we were able to obtain an ultrasound which confirmed the presence of breast cancer. If it hadn’t been for the grant, we may not have been able to work with her,” said Wilson. “Another woman had a history of breast cancer, but didn’t feel she could afford a mammogram for the past seven years. Unfortunately, once she had the mammogram through the Komen grant we found cancer in the second breast. The first patient shows the importance of breast self exams in addition to mammograms and the second shows the importance of continued screenings Most women think if they have no family history of breast cancer that they’re safe, but the vast majority of women being diagnosed have no family history.”
According to Theresa Uptmor, SMH Business Office Manager, although the wellness exams and mammograms are picked up by the grants, any additional tests and procedures must be billed for. “Our business office works with patients to identify possible funding sources. We also try to develop payment methods that people can afford.”
The Kamiah forum on April 8 will be held in the Kamiah Welcome Center. The Cottonwood forum on April 14 is scheduled in the SMH downstairs conference room. Both forums are sponsored by St. Mary’s Hospital and Clinics and begin at 7:00 p.m. Refreshments will be served.