In a recent article published in the journal Cancer, a peer-reviewed journal of the American Cancer Society, researchers found a link between a lack of health insurance and a more advance-stage breast cancer diagnosis.
According to the Oklahoma Department of Health, an estimated 700,000 Oklahomans lack health insurance coverage, and the American Cancer Society estimates that 40,460 women are expected to die from breast cancer in 2007.
Oklahoma's Project Woman Coalition is combating the issue head-on.
"When doctors see these kinds of patients, it's hard for them to know what to do, or how to help these women, but they know they need to be helped," said Pamela Scott, executive director of the coalition. "That's where we come in."
The nonprofit coalition works with all of the major hospitals and imaging centers in Oklahoma City to provide free and discounted mammograms for women with little or no health insurance.
"No one should become a statistic because they can't afford insurance or the cost of a mammogram," Scott said. "Our organization's vision is that every woman in Oklahoma will have access to quality breast care."
Last year, the coalition helped women receive more than 125,000 procedures.
"We've helped a lot of women," Scott said. "But our job is not done yet." "Lauren Parajon