Health leaders stress value of mammograms

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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU)-- For Mayo Clinic Health System, the fall months mean more women coming through the doors of the HERS Breast Center.

“We are able to get women in and back out within 30 minutes for their screening mammogram,” HERS Breast Center Supervisor Terri Soley said.

Soley says no matter what time of year, getting an annual mammogram is crucial to detecting breast cancer early.

While guidelines vary, Mayo Clinic Health System recommends women are seen annually for a mammogram once they reach age 40.

“Early detection is important for women. When women find out they have breast cancer they don't want it to be at a later stage. They want it to be at an early stage when it's most treatable,” Soley added.

The five-year survival rate for breast cancer is 98% among those whose cancer has not spread beyond the breast at the time of diagnosis. That's why the Eau Claire City-County Health Department says a mammogram is so crucial.

“If you look at less than an hour of time in your entire year, that's really a small amount of time to spend on something that could save your life,” public health nurse Jackie Krumenauer said.

Locally, the Eau Claire City-County Health Department says women older than 50 in Eau Claire reporting having a mammogram in the last two years is lower than the state average.

The health department says changes in health care requirements have made it easier for women to have access to breast cancer screenings, which makes a big difference. They say despite the changes, some women are still skipping out on mammograms.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that insurance will cover it. We need to make sure we are getting that education out for people and encourage them to check on it and take the hour a year to get it done,” Krumenauer added.

While many women have access to breast cancer screenings through private insurance, the Health Insurance Marketplace or Badgercare, there are still some women who don't have insurance. Seven local counties including Eau Claire take part in the Wisconsin Well Woman program, which provides screenings to those who qualify.

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