Fewer Iowans getting mammogram's - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Fewer Iowans getting mammogram's


Dubuque (KWWL) -- October is National Breast Cancer Awareness month, and fewer Iowa women are being screened. According to the American Cancer Society, last year 60% of older Iowa women got a mammogram, down 4%. The ACS says if detected early, breast cancer is 98% survivable.

Doctors say women should start having yearly mammograms at age 40, 30 if there's breast cancer in your family. Many people across the country are taking this month to remind women to sign up for that yearly screening.

For salon owner Cathie Avenarius, pink is everywhere, on her glasses, on her feet, even on her hair clippers. Avenarius organizes a yearly walk in Dubuque to raise money for uninsured or under-insured women to visit a doctor.

"The beginning it was just for mammograms, and we've expanded those to doctor visits, ultrasounds, MRIs, biopsies," Avenarius said.

Breast cancer and the fight for prevention and a cure became very personal for avenarius after a mammogram nearly three years ago.

"I found out I had breast cancer," Avenarius said.

Avenarius started going for yearly mammograms at age 40, but never thought she'd have a problem.

"There is absolutely no breast cancer in our family, so I was really surprised," Avenarius said.

Avenarius says it was the mammogram that saved her life.

"I would never felt a lump, so if I hadn't had a mammogram, it would have been too late by the time I would find it," Avenarius said.

"Mammography, I mean it's been around a long time, film screen mammography. According to the American Cancer Society it is still the best method of detection for breast cancer," Dr. Jan Hirsch, the director of radiology at the Finley Hospital, said.

After a lumpectomy and months of radiation therapy, Avenarius is cancer-free and showing her pride with the power of pink.

"I'm in a group, The Breast of Friends. Our motto is, 'there's life after breast cancer, and what a wonderful life it is.'" Avenarius said.

Finley Hospital doctors say they've actually seen an increase in patients coming in for mammograms. They say perhaps due to the high number of clinics in the dubuque area and awareness programs like "The Breast of Friends" breast cancer walk Sunday, October 5 from 1:00 to 4:00. The 5 k walk starts and ends at St. Peter's Lutheran Church on Asbury.

Reporter:  Jamie Grey

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