Friday, December 01, 2000

Cancer check easy to get here

Mammograms available

By Marie McCain
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Greater Cincinnatians have no reason to be concerned about the availability of mammography screenings, despite a report that predicts a looming scarcity in access nationwide, officials said Thursday.

        “There are more than enough places in this area for women to get a screening,” said Erin Walker, breast education, screening and treatment coordinator with the American Cancer Society's Cincinnati chapter. “The longest wait, normally, is about a week.

        “The only time there is ever really an issue (about availability) is in October, Breast Cancer Awareness Month, when a lot of people learn about breast cancer,” she said.

        Doctors at the Radiology Society of North America's annual meeting in Chicago this week reported that an alarming number of mammography centers across the country are closing because of a shortage of technicians to conduct the scans, insufficient reimbursement rates, and fears of malpractice lawsuits.

        The closures, doctors said, have contributed to the lengthy wait — sometimes months — some women have when they schedule a mammography scan.

        They warned that because of shrinking access many women may decide to skip the recommended test.

        In Cincinnati, according to Barb Timmer, health line manager for the YWCA of Cincinnati Breast and Cervical Health Network, all of this area's hospitals provide mammography screening.

        “If anything, I think most (Greater Cincinnati) women don't know how much is available to them,” she said Thursday. “There is a definite lack of knowledge about the different services out there for women.”

        In the Greater Cincinnati area, there are more than 15 agencies in operation. In the past year only two have closed their doors. Both — at Dillard's in Kenwood Towne Centre, and at Lazarus in downtown Cincinnati — shut down because of a lack of patronage, Ms. Walker said.

       The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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