Clark County women develop breast cancer at a higher rate than most other Ohioans, a factor that’s driving awareness and prevention efforts in the Springfield area.
At a rate of 135 breast cancer cases per 100,000 women, Clark County had the sixth highest incidence from 2010 to 2014, according to a new report from the Ohio Department of Health with info on each of the state’s 88 counties. That’s higher than Ohio’s rate of 123.8 cases per 100,000 and 124.9 per 100,000 for the entire United States.
October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, a cause supported annually by several organizations and businesses around the country.
“We do have a problem with this in Clark County,” said Charles Patterson, commissioner of Clark County’s Combined Health District. “That’s why the health district is particularly pinpointing this at a policy level.”
The general health of Clark County residents is directly tied to an increased risk for cancers, Patterson said. The rate of obesity and tobacco use, Patterson said, are both higher in Clark County than it is in the rest of Ohio.
Access to health care is another issue that has caused Clark County’s breast cancer incidence to remain high, said Dawn Naill, marketing specialist and Komen project director with Mercy Health.
Naill was at the Rocking Horse Center on Monday with the mobile mammogram unit, a truck that contains a waiting room, two changing areas and an examination room where women can get screened for breast cancer. The truck, which offers both 2D and 3D imaging, accepts walk-ins.
“Breast cancer in our area is very prevalent,” Naill said. “Nationwide, one in eight women will develop breast cancer. Our local stats here in Clark County are higher than that so early detection is the best protection.”
The unit was stationed Monday at the Rocking Horse Center on South Limestone Street in Springfield.
Since launching in January 2017, close to 1,700 women have been screened in the truck. Fifteen women screened were diagnosed with early-stage cancer, Naill said.
If breast cancer is caught early, women who are diagnosed with it have a 99 percent chance of survival, according to Mercy. That high chance of survival, Patterson said, is a testament to the importance of screening and why health care access initiatives, such as the mobile mammogram service, are so crucial.
“Access to health care is always an issue…We should eventually see these numbers start to go down because of them being out there on the road,” Patterson said.
Mercy’s mobile mammography truck will be heading to Graham Elementary in St. Paris on Friday where services will be available from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The truck has eight more stops planned through Nov. 12, according to Mercy Heatlh.
Around 10 percent of women who have taken advantage of the mobile unit didn’t have insurance and 40 percent were walk-ins, according to Mercy. Of the 15 women screened in the truck who were discovered to have early stage breast cancer, seven were walk-ins.
“So that would be a lady who maybe didn’t plan ahead for that appointment, it was perhaps impromptu and it saved their life,” Naill said. “It made a difference.”
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