Statistics show Nebraska ranks among the worst for number of women getting mammograms

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LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) - When it comes to breast cancer, doctors say early detection is key.

In fact, its been shown to reduce breast cancer deaths by 40% since the 1990's, and if cancer is found early on, there's more than a 90% chance your cancer will be curable.

But statistics show not enough Nebraskans are getting screened.

The American Cancer Society said Nebraska rank 44th out of 50 states for the number of people getting mammograms.

Mary Foerster, a breast cancer survivor, said those numbers make her sick to her stomach.

Because she said a mammogram is a big part of why she's here today.

"It's what helped saved my life," Foerster said.

She was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2002.

With surgery, chemo and radiation, she said she's been in remission for 17 years.

"Everyday is a gift," she said.

According to the "American Cancer Society" , 67 percent of Nebraska women are getting mammograms.

The national average is 72 percent.

Only six states in the country have numbers lower than Nebraska.

"It's disheartening," Kim Coleman, radiologist for CHI Health St. Elizabeth said. "It's disappointing that any woman isn't getting screened."

Coleman said all women between 40 and 50 should begin getting regular mammograms, based on their doctor's recommendations.

"Not having a family history, not having risk factors isn't reassurance," Coleman said.

Coleman said one in eight women will get breast cancer in their lifetime, and while a mammogram isn't a promise for a cure, it's a woman's best chance at surviving.

"Know that people love and depend on you, do this for those people even if you aren't thinking of yourself. Do something that's going to help us find the disease early," Coleman said.
Foerster said, take it from her: don't wait.

"You'll always think I'll schedule it tomorrow, or next week or next month," She said. "Do it now."

Coleman said most health insurance plans cover regular screenings, but if you're worried about affording a mammogram, there are resources available.

CHI Health St. Elizabeth currently has a "coupon" allowing a woman to get a 3-D mammogram for $149 in October if their insurance doesn't cover it.

There's also a program through the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services called "Every Woman Matters" that assists Nebraskans in getting access to this crucial care.

If you'd like to learn more about mammograms, CHI Health St. Elizabeth is holding an event Friday, Oct. 18 called Mammography 101. It starts at 5:00 p.m. and is located in the lower level of the hospital at 555 South 70th Street.