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Doctors say more women should get routine breast cancer screenings

Ellen Abbott
WRVO News File Photo
Dr. Joseph Ang of St. Joseph's Imaging, looks at a mammogram

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s breast cancer initiative wants to increase the number of women that undergo mammography by 10 percent over the next year. But doctor's say there is room for improvement in screening for the second leading cause of cancer-related death for women in New York state.

Dr. Julie Colvin, a family practice physician at St. Joseph's Physicians, says in just the last six months, two of her patients were diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram. The cancers were found early and treated, and Colvin says it goes to show how important these tests are. But she says there are still many women who don’t go in for regular screening, and they fall into two categories. The first being people who are busy with work and family.

"They put themselves last, so they just don’t remember to get this test done," said Colvin. "Because this is a screening test. Because even if you feel healthy, you should still have it done.”  

Credit Ellen Abbott / WRVO News
A digital mammography unit at St. Joseph’s Imaging Associates in Fayetteville

Colvin says women with chronic illnesses also tend to let a routine mammogram slide, because they are worrying about other things. Cuomo is proposing spending more than $90 million to boost breast cancer screening. That would include providing funds to buy mobile mammography units, and extending mammography hours at hospitals and clinics, among other things.  

Dr. Joseph Ang, head of mammography at St. Joseph’s Imaging, says there is room for growth.
"We are not maxed out," said Ang. "We will provide additional service if need be.”

Cuomo announced the initiative in his State of the State address in January after the issue became personal.  It was a year ago this month that his girlfriend, celebrity chef Sandra Lee, was diagnosed with breast cancer after a routine mammogram.

Ellen produces news reports and features related to events that occur in the greater Syracuse area and throughout Onondaga County. Her reports are heard regularly in regional updates in Morning Edition and All Things Considered.