Idaho Struggles With Breast Cancer Screening

Aug 24, 2011


BOISE, Id – Idaho is last in the nation when it comes to getting screened for breast cancer.  Emily Simnitt is with the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare.  Simnitt says more than 120-thousand Idaho women over forty have not had a mammogram in the last two years.  That’s a problem, because early detection can increase the chances of survival.

Emily Simnitt “In the last two years, only about 64 percent of Idaho women aged 40 or older reported getting screened for breast cancer and to give you a point of comparison, the highest ranked state, which is Massachusetts, has a breast cancer screening rate of about 84 percent, we’re quite below them and we’re also below the national average as well.”

Simnitt says it’s hard to pinpoint a cause for Idaho’s low rate.  Lack of health insurance is a factor.  She says many women simply don’t take the time to get screened.  According to the Idaho Vital Statistics report, cancer is the leading cause of death among women in the Gem State.  Breast cancer is the second leading cause of death, behind lung cancer.

Health and Welfare suggests several websites that may offer help or information, includingOperation Pink BagCancer Data Registry of IdahoComprehensive Cancer Alliance for Idaho, and the Idaho Comprehensive Cancer Control Program.  You can also call 211 for information on the Idaho Women’s Health Check Program which offers free screening to a small number of women who qualify.