By Alan Sorensen
Hill County Family Planning, an HRDC agency, has been selected as the administrative site for the Montana Breast and Cervical Health Program in northcentral Montana.
The selection was made by the Montana Department of Health and Human Services and is funded by a federal grant from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The program is open to women in Hill, Blaine and Phillips counties, HRDC Family Planning Director Karen Sloan said. Sloan can provide the services at her office in College Park Plaza, she said, or arrangements can be made for women to consult physicians who have chosen to participate in the program.
Public health departments and the Family Planning site will be providing information to the public.
Sloan, a nurse practitioner, said the purpose of the one-year grant is to:
Provide health education and outreach on breast and cervical cancer,
Provide early detection and control to women 50 and older,
Motivate women 50 to 64 to obtain comprehensive early detection screening and rescreening services through the project.
Sloan said that the need is even more pronounced among Montanas American Indians. American Indian women tend to be younger than whites when first diagnosed or treated for breast and cervical cancer and their survival rates are lower.
Goals of the program are to promote early detection of breast and cervical cancer through regular screening and targeting women who are low-income, uninsured or underinsured, minority, and 50 to 64 years of age.
The statistics make very clear the need for screening, Sloan said. Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer in Montana women. In 1971, 31 percent of all reported cancers in women were breast cancer. In 1999, it is estimated that 600 new cases of breast cancer will be detected in Montana women and that 200 women will die of the disease.
Early detection is critical to improving the survival rate of women diagnosed with cervical cancer, Sloan said. Nationally, from 1973 to 1995, invasive cervical cancer rates have dropped dramatically. The reduction, Sloan said, is attributed to the widespread use of routine Pap smear screening, which identifies an abnormality in its precancerous condition and allows for early treatment.
For more information, call Sloan at 265-2519 or 1-888-803-9343.