One in eight women in the United States will develop breast cancer, the second most common cancer in women, at some point in their lives. While breast cancer can affect anyone and rates for white women have generally stabilized in the past few years, there is a disparity in breast cancer for African American women.
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and Public Health Madison & Dane County (PHMDC) encourages women, particularly women of color, to take steps to be screened for breast cancer.
“While African American women have similar incidence rates to white women, they’re about 40% more likely to die from breast cancer and are more likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer at a later stage of the disease when treatment options are limited, it is more costly, and the prognosis is poor. That’s why it’s so important for women of color to be screened regularly,” said Kari Sievert, Program Coordinator for the PHMDC Wisconsin Well Woman Program.
The Wisconsin Well Woman Program (WWWP) provides free breast cancer screenings for women with limited income and little or no insurance. The Well Woman Program is a statewide program that offers free breast exams, mammograms, and other diagnostic tests for eligible women ages 45-65, and women ages 35-44 who have breast symptoms or concerns.
“Breast cancer screening is important because when breast cancer is found early, there are more treatment options and many women, once treated, remain cancer free,” said Sievert. “We can enroll women in the Well Woman Program quickly and easily over the phone."
Once enrolled in the program, women may receive exams at more than 35 clinics in Dane and Rock Counties.
Women may call 608-242-6392 to enroll. Women who live outside Dane and Rock Counties should call 1-800-722-2295 to enroll or visit https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/wwwp.
The East Madison Community Center (EMCC) is hosting a Women’s Breast Cancer Education event, specifically for African American women, on Saturday, Oct. 5, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The event will feature a speaker from the UW Health Disparities Initiative as well as two women sharing their breast cancer journeys. The event is co-sponsored by East Madison Community Center, PHMDC, Joining Forces for Families, UW-Cancer Health Disparities Initiative and the Wisconsin Well Woman Program. Up to 50 women may register by calling or texting 608-516-8317.