Get Healthy Carson City: October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

This column appears in the Nevada Appeal Tuesday health pages. It addresses topics related to the health of our community.

Breast cancer is the second most common cancer in women. Most breast cancer is found in women 50 years and over and about 10 percent of breast cancer is found in women 45 years of age and younger. Some women are at higher risk for breast cancer no matter their age. Factors like a BRCA1 or BRCA2 gene mutation and a breast cancer history in a first degree relative (mother, sister, and/or daughter) are examples of risk factors. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention outlines symptoms to look for that “can include any change in the size or the shape of the breast, pain in any area of the breast, nipple discharge other than breast milk (including blood), and a new lump in the breast or underarm. If you have any signs that worry you, see your doctor right away.” A more detailed list of symptoms can be found at:

Over the past few years breast cancer screening guidelines have be revised and may even be different depending on the professional organization you look to for information. Recommendations also vary depending on whether or not a woman is at average risk for breast cancer or at higher risk. The differing recommendations can leave any woman confused as to how to move forward with breast cancer screening. A conversation with your medical provider is the best way to sort out all of the differences.

Carson City Health and Human Services follows the US Preventive Task Force Guidelines which recommends women 50 to 74 get a screening mammogram every two years. This same task force recommends women 40 to 49 talk with your health care provider to review your individual risk to determine when to start screening mammograms.

Most insurances and Medicaid cover mammogram screening ordered by your doctor. For uninsured women who meet age and income criteria there is a program called Women’s Health Connection. Women’s Health Connection is a breast and cervical cancer detection program that links women with screening and follow-up care. To defray the cost of mammograms, ultrasounds, and biopsies for women of any age, Carson City Health and Human Services also partners with Soroptomist International of Carson City. Call 887-2195 for more information. Nevada Health Center’s offers a monthly Mammovan. Call 877-581-6266 to make an appointment to see if you qualify for a free or reduced-cost mammogram. The Mammovan schedule of dates and locations can be found at:

For information on mammograms, cancer screenings, or Health Department programs and services, check out our website at or “Like” us on Facebook at


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