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ALBANY, GA (WALB) - Economic cutbacks could have some women forgoing an important medical test and that could put their lives at risk.
The number of women getting mammograms at the Carlton Breast Health Center is declining. Health care workers worry it may because many unemployed people have lost their insurance and see the test as an unnecessary expense.
Health care workers say a mammogram is the single best screening device for breast cancer and since breast cancer is the second leading cancer death among women they shouldn't delay the procedure for any reason.
Pink balloons filled the parking lot of Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital reminding women a mammogram could be a life saving procedure.
"Because I had a mother-in-law to die from breast cancer, I'm really an advocate for it," said Dale Jones, Carlton Breast Cancer Center Office Coordinator.
Even registered nurse Dorothy Dickey wanted to delay her procedure.
"It was during the holidays and I really kind of wanted to put it off but I decided no, I would go ahead and so I had my routine mammogram," said Dorothy Dicky, Carlton Breast Canter Center R.N.
Now she's glad she went through with the procedure.
"They called me a couple of days later to come back they did an ultrasound and sent me on to someone else and that's how it was detected," said Dickey.
She's seen the numbers of women getting a mammogram in the last year slowly decline.
"Part of that is due to the economy," said Dickey.
It may also be because others received a good screening, but she says a yearly mammogram after 40 is essential.
"You can have a big change in a year," said Dickey.
Money should never be the reason for not having the procedure.
"If we have patients that are uninsured they can always apply for the Phoebe card and Phoebe will work with anyone even if you have insurance they will work with anyone to set up a financial plan," said Dickey.
Especially if there's a family history.
"My girls now are high risk because of their grandmother, so they are very cautious and we just push it to the utmost," said Jones.
Health care professionals say the average cost for a mammogram is $168. They also say, you are your own best advocate for your health and that's why it's important to do self exams and see your doctor if something doesn't seem right.
Women between the ages of 20 and 30 should have a breast exam every three years. Women 40 and older should have a clinical exam annually. For more information on breast cancer you can log onto the American Cancer Society's website at www.cancer.org.
You can also contact the Carlton Breast Health center at 1-800-275-4108 or log onto www.phoebeputney.com.