Underinsured offered free breast exams, mammograms
Women ages 40 to 49 with no health insurance or inadequate coverage may get free mammogram screenings from St. Francis Medical Center-Liliha or St. Francis Medical Center-West in Ewa Beach.
Appointments must be made through the Cancer Screening and Control Program at St. Francis-Liliha by calling 547-6889 or 547-6798.
The hospitals will provide clinical breast exams and breast health education to women, as well as mammograms.
The Cancer Screening and Education Program recognizes that access to health care is a major challenge for minority women, particularly native Hawaiians, Asians and Pacific Islanders, according to St. Francis officials.
The Cancer Screening and Education Program was created as a one-stop center for mammograms, clinical breast exams and one-on-one breast health education.
"Our goal is to offer women easy access to one of our screening facilities," said Tusitala Toomata-Mayer, a registered nurse who coordinates the program.
The free breast health program is funded with a grant from the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation. This is the second year for the grant to St. Francis, which enabled the medical center last year to reach 67 women. Educational materials are available in Samoan, Hawaiian, Vietnamese, Chinese, Spanish, Micronesian and Korean.
Women are advised to begin getting mammograms at age 40. About 800 cases of breast cancer are diagnosed in Hawaii each year, and 100 women die from the disease, according to the Hawaii Cancer Facts and Figures 2003-2004 source book.
Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in Hawaii, regardless of race or ethnicity. Hawaiian women have the highest breast cancer incidence and mortality rates.