“Early diagnosis is the key to survival,” Cameron said.
And to promote early diagnosis, Verdugo Hills Hospital is offering discounted mammograms throughout the month — instead of about $130, the screenings will cost $55, he said.
The hospital has offered the discounted screenings for more than five years, and as a tool to get more women checked, it’s working.
Each month, the hospital does about 200 screenings, he said.
But in October, the discount helps boost the number of customers to about 300, he said.
Increased national awareness, bolstered by an array of yearlong and October-specific education initiatives, may have had a hand in a declining breast cancer mortality rate, said Eric Beikmann, spokesman for the American Cancer Society.
Though one in eight women are diagnosed with breast cancer, only one in 35 die from the disease on average, he said.
From 1990 to 2004, mortality rates decreased by 3.3% per year among women younger than 50 and by 2% per year among women 50 and older, he said. The decline has been attributed to improvements in breast cancer treatment and to early detection, he said.
That progress has come despite a recent dip in mammograms, he said.
Between 2000 and 2005, the American Cancer Society reported a 4% drop in the number of women getting mammograms, he said.
But Verdugo Hills Hospital patient Roxane Cornelius said that, despite the numbers, women seem more proactive about getting screened.
“When I have my mammogram, I tell everyone,” said Cornelius, who took advantage of Verdugo Hills Hospital’s October discount on Tuesday.
Still, some women avoid the test — just like some men avoid recommended prostate or colon cancer screenings — because they fear the results, Cameron said.
“People need to know that, look, it’s OK [to have breast cancer],” Cameron said. “It’s not a life-ending thing. It’s something you confront and get past.”
At Glendale Adventist Medical Center, staffers will host an educational booth in the lobby every Wednesday this month.
Glendale Memorial Hospital will feature the hospital’s chief technologist and breast center supervisor at its monthly breast cancer support group, in a talk that will address how to get a comfortable and accurate mammogram. The session is scheduled for 6 p.m. Oct. 11. For more information, call (818) 502-2323.
For more information about breast cancer or Breast Cancer Awareness Month, call the American Cancer Society’s 24-hour info-line at (800) 227-2345.
To schedule a discounted mammogram at Verdugo Hills Hospital, call (818) 790-7100.