If you could outsmart cancer, would you do it?
What if you were told it would only take a few minutes of your time and it could save your life?
It's possible through screenings — the best weapons in the early detection of a wide scope of cancers.
For women, in particular, studies have shown that regular mammograms and pap tests have contributed to the decline in deaths related to breast and cervical cancer.
But if you're uninsured or underinsured, such screenings often fall by the wayside.
In an effort to reach out to that segment of the population, the Washington County Health Department is sponsoring a Breast and Cervical Program Sign-Up Day.
The event will be from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 27, at the Mt. Hope Prison Ministry, 25 Summit Ave. in downtown Hagerstown.
It is being offered through grant monies that are received from the state and federal government, said Holly Luther, community health educator for the the Health Department's cancer screening programs.
Luther said the Health Department offers ongoing breast exams, mammograms and cervical screenings from July through June, based on funding. Eligible women are scheduled with local doctor's offices that provide these services for the program.
This is the first time that Mt. Hope Prison Ministry has participated in the program, "however, they do know about the programs at the health department and provide information to the public they serve," Luther said.
Luther noted that examinations will not take place on Tuesday. Instead, it will be an opportunity for women to enroll to receive screenings.
Those attending the event will be scheduled with a local provider and notified of exam dates at a later time.
Representatives from the Breast and Cervical Cancer Program will be doing the enrollment procedures.
Luther said the grant specifically targets women between the ages of 40 and 64 who are uninsured or underinsured.
"Forty is the recommended age to start mammograms," she said. "And after the age of 64, a woman should be receiving Medicare. If there are women who do not receive Medicare, we will still see them."
In addition to scheduling exams, Luther said the program provides in-depth education on the importance of screenings and breast health.
Luther cited American Cancer Society statistics, which report that an estimated 4,700 women in Maryland will be diagnosed with breast cancer and an estimated 810 will die of the disease in 2012.
An estimated 200 cases of cervical cancer will be reported in the state and an estimated 75 persons will die.
There is no cost associated with the program.
"We cover the costs of the doctor visits, the breast exam, mammogram and pap test," she explained.
The program is equipped to follow the women who sign up through the entire process.
"If the women need additional services concerning the mammogram or pap test, they will be linked to services," Luther said. "Each year, women are recalled for services to check if they are still eligible for the program."
Women attending the sign-up day will need to bring proof of income and photo identification, Luther said.
If you go ...
WHAT: Breast and Cervical Program Sign-Up Day
WHEN: 1 to 4 p.m. Tuesday, March 27
WHERE: Mt. Hope Prison Ministry, 25 Summit Avenue, downtown Hagerstown.
CONTACT: Call 240-313-3235 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Breast and cervical cancer screening sign-up is Tuesday in Hagerstown
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