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Free Breast Cancer Screenings Available to Qualifying Tennesseans

Tennessee women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancerous conditions for these cancers are enrolled for treatment coverage through the state’s TennCare program. (Army Medicine)
Tennessee women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer or pre-cancerous conditions for these cancers are enrolled for treatment coverage through the state’s TennCare program. (Army Medicine)
October 25, 2018

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – More than 5,000 new cases of breast cancer were reported in Tennessee in 2017, according to the Tennessee Breast Cancer Coalition.

Women whose breast cancer is detected in its early stages have a 93 percent survival rate, so screening is particularly important.

Because of a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, qualifying women can benefit from the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening Program.

Kelly Luskin, director of Reproductive and Women's Health for the Tennessee Department of Health, says beyond screening, appropriate follow up from doctors is important.

"Early detection is key, and I think having providers having that conversation right from the very beginning of, 'OK, we're going to do this screening and, based on the results, we may need to follow up with you,' and the importance of timely treatment," she states.

Women can qualify based on income and current insurance coverage gaps.

Doctors recommend mammograms no later than age 50, with some advising women to begin them at 40, unless there are additional risk factors.

Family history, obesity, previous cancer history and smoking are all reasons why you may want to be screened early.

Last year the state screening program provided services to more than 9,000 women.

Luskin says care goes beyond the initial mammogram.

"We navigate them through the entire process,” she explains, “from getting them in for screening, to get them in through all of their diagnostics and to make sure they get on and get started with their treatment."

According to the American Cancer Society, Tennessee ranks 30th in the country in terms of screening, with 71 percent of women 40 and older getting a mammogram.

Stephanie Carson, Public News Service - TN