Health department offers resources for battle

-A A +A
By Ashley Andresen, Staff Writer

The month for reflecting on breast cancer awareness is quickly coming to a close and local health department administration is encouraging those who haven’t gotten a mammogran to get one.

“It’s really critical women over 50 do get a mammogram. It can save their lives,” Health Department Administrator Barbara Locke said in a telephone interview.

The older a person is or the older one gets, the risk goes up for all kinds of cancer – the leading cause of death for people in Levy County, she said, with breast cancer ranking just below lung cancer.

The health department offers a Florida Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program to women ages 50-64. The program is free for women under 200 percent of the poverty level who do not have insurance.

It’s pretty generous, Locke said. An appointment can be made at the health department for a breast exam and pap smear and they can refer people for a mammogram who have not had one within two years.

“I think it’s a great program,” Locke said, though it is limited by funding. The Florida Department of Health provides the money to provide the service, she said.

The incidence rate for those diagnosed with breast cancer in Levy County for those over 50 is 76.96 percent, Locke said. 

For women aged 50-74, 62 percent in Levy County report having had a mammogram in the last two years, with the state figure being 77.4 percent. 

By income, 57 percent of those making less than $25,000 a year reported having a mammogram in the last two years, and 85.9 percent of those making more than $50,000 reported having done so.

Locke also stressed taking preventative measures such as diet to reduce obesity and quitting smoking — the two leading risk factors for cancers.

For women who have insurance that covers a mammogram, they need not be afraid of it, they need to have it done, she said.

“Obviously, early detection can equal a cure,” she said.