breast cancer

WUIS

As a nurse, Mindy Pearse has to call women undergoing cancer tests to relay the results.  Sometimes, she delivers bad news.

Pearse understands how those women feel.  She was diagnosed with breast cancer a decade ago.

Lisa Ryan/WUIS

The Illinois Cancer Action Network is calling attention to breast and cervical cancer screenings, especially as some of those programs face cuts.

The governor's proposed budget would reduce funding for breast and cervical cancer screenings by 71 percent. Democratic Rep. Mike Smiddy of Hillsdale is opposed. He says his wife is a cancer survivor, and without early screening his children might not have a mother.

As new bio-technology and research make more and more information available to patients with cancer, they and their families often confront new and challenging decisions. Some risk factors for cancer can be inherited. Many have been linked to gene mutations. In some cases, people choose not to know if they carry any of the genes. Others choose to learn they carry a marker for cancer and must make the difficult decision of how to respond. Some increase screening, others undergo preventive surgery while they're healthy.

American Cancer Society

Gov. Bruce Rauner's proposed budget includes cuts to a program that allows uninsured women to receive access to cancer screenings.

Pamela Luechtefeld says if it weren't for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer Program, she wouldn't have detected her breast cancer.

"I would probably be ate up with cancer because they caught it in its second stage, so I wouldn't have been--I hadn't been to the doctor," she said. "The last time I had a mammogram was eight years ago."

Mammography In 3D

Oct 30, 2013
File photo

  Illinois requires insurance companies to cover routine mammograms, but that doesn't necessarily include a new method of detecting breast cancer.

A mammogram is a low-dose of x-rays doctors use to spot breast cancer. An important tool, to be sure, but one that can result in false-positives.

Dr. Sarah Friedewald says that'll happen a lot less if women also get a 3D mammogram. Likewise, she says, the new technology makes it easier to spot abnormalities.