Iowa women who have comprehensive health care plans sometimes decide to skip breast cancer screenings. Those women will be polled next week in four focus groups in northern and eastern Iowa to find out why they forego the potentially-life-saving tests. Lorrie Graaf, director of health care partnerships for the Iowa chapter of the American Cancer Society, explains the goal.
Graff says the focus groups seek to find out why women who have health care plans decide not to screen for breast cancer, or why women who have previously been screened for breast cancer chose not to be re-screened for at least five years. Graaf says having a regular screening for breast cancer is vital to a woman’s health.
The chances a woman in her 40s would develop breast cancer by the time she reaches the age of 50 is 1-in-55. A woman in her 50s has a higher risk of 1-in-30 by the time she’s 60. Women are encouraged to get regular screenings starting at the age of 40 so an early diagnosis can be made.
The American Cancer Society is teaming up with the Iowa Department of Public Health and the Iowa Cancer Consortium for the project. Graaf says they want to learn the reasons why women are choosing not to get screened. She says the focus groups aren’t meant to change a woman’s mind about her decision, rather to learn why and how the woman made the decision on not being screened or re-screened.
The data collected will be used with other data to help develop an action plan to increase screening rates among women who have financial access to screening but have chosen not to do so. The first focus group will meet in Osage on August 1st. The second one is scheduled for Mason City on August 2nd but may have to be rescheduled. There will also be groups on August 3rd in Davenport and August 4th in Maquoketa.
For more information, call (319) 335-4931 by Friday.
By Bob Fisher, KRIB, Mason City