Increasing screening and early detection of cancers throughout the state is an NCC goal. When it comes to breast cancer, regular screening can assist in detecting cancer before symptoms occur, and usher women towards diagnostic tests to determine if cancer is present. In Nevada breast cancer screening rates are at 66.8% for women 40+ who've had a mammogram in the past two years, as reported in the CDC's Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System 2012 (BRFSS). That's far below the national average of 74%, and even farther below the Healthy People 2020 target of 81.1%. In fact, Nevada ranks 46th in the nation for breast cancer screening rates.
Clearly Nevada has a ways to go in getting our breast cancer screening rates up. And the obvious questions are, "do we have enough screening facilities?" and "are there enough programs to assist women get free or low-cost mammograms?" Well, yes. There are nearly 70 locations throughout Nevada to get screened for breast cancer, either at a mammography center or via the Nevada Health Centers' Mammovan. (Check the map here.) The state, in partnership with Access to Healthcare Network, also runs the Women's Health Connection, a program funded by the CDC's Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides mammograms for low-income, uninsured or underserved women throughout the state. Many hospitals and health care centers also have free or low-cost mammogram programs.
So why is the breast cancer screening rate in Nevada so low? The NCC has been working with stakeholders throughout Nevada for much of this year to learn more about breast cancer issues facing women in our state and to better understand our low numbers. In late October, in partnership with American Cancer Society's Cancer Action Network (ACS-CAN), we hosted round table meetings in both Reno and Las Vegas with representatives from public, private, and non-profit organizations, including physicians, nurses, researchers, and survivors. While the challenges are different in each area of the state, key concerns include education, funding, patient access to care, resources and navigation. One major discussion point was that despite new coverage options stemming from the Affordable Care Act (ACA) as well as breast cancer screening included as one of the ACA's essential health benefits, many women in Nevada will still go un-screened. We will continue to work with each group to carry on the discussions and find solutions to enhance our state's performance education, screening, diagnostics and treatment for breast cancer, as well as access and quality of breast cancer care for women in Nevada.