New Mexico Launches Breast, Cervical Cancer Screening Awareness Campaign

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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The New Mexico Department of Health is launching an awareness campaign this month to encourage women to ask their doctors about getting a Pap smear and mammogram to screen for breast and cervical cancer. Women may be eligible for the Department of Health’s free screening program.

The Department’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program contracts with clinics throughout the state to provide annual Pap smears and mammograms for New Mexico women who are uninsured or underinsured and live below 250% of the federal poverty level. The Department served almost 12,000 women last year compared to 13,000 the year before.

“We have seen a slight decline in the number of women who are requesting free Pap smears and mammograms,” said Health Secretary Dr. Alfredo Vigil. “We want women to take care of their health for themselves and for their families. It’s important to get screened regularly because treatment works best when breast or cervical cancer is diagnosed at an early stage.”

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The most effective strategy for detecting early-stage breast cancer is undergoing a screening mammogram every one to two years starting at age 40. If diagnosed when breast cancer is still localized in the breast, the five-year relative survival for breast cancer is approximately 98%.

The most effective strategy for preventing cervical cancer is regular Pap tests, which can detect pre-cancerous cervical conditions before they become cervical cancer. Pap tests can also identify cervical cancer at an early stage when it is most amenable to treatment. Women who are 21 and older or sexually active should get screened for cervical cancer. Women should check with their doctor about how often they need a Pap smear.

Since 1991, the Breast and Cervical Program has provided comprehensive breast and cervical cancer screening and diagnostic services to more than 125,000 underserved women in New Mexico.

Each year approximately 1,100 women in New Mexico are diagnosed with invasive breast cancer, and approximately 220 die from breast cancer, according to the New Mexico Tumor Registry. Each year, approximately 80 women in New Mexico are diagnosed with invasive cervical cancer and about 22 die from cervical cancer. Of all cancers, cervical cancer is one of the most amenable to prevention and early detection through screening.

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