Resources for those developing breast disease who are underinsured or uninsured
BATON ROUGE, La. (WAFB) - As we press through October, we are breaking down barriers for breast cancer patients and those at high risk for the disease. In our Bridging the Great Health Divide series, WAFB dug into how health leaders are bridging the gap for underinsured or uninsured women.
“My mother had breast cancer and ovarian cancer,” said Amanda Scott, a high-risk breast cancer patient in Baton Rouge.
“My grandmother on my mother’s side had breast cancer twice, and my grandmother on my father’s side had breast cancer,” said Scott. “I’ve always been around it, and it’s always been a fear of mine that I would get it because so many female members of my family have.”
Due to her extensive family history of the disease, Scott was referred to Dr. Everett Bonner, a Surgical Breast Oncologist at Baton Rouge General’s High-Risk Breast Clinic.
“It’s for patients who are at high risk of breast cancer or have breast cancer or anyone who’s concerned about their breast health,” said Bonner.
The facility provides specialized care to women who are underinsured or uninsured. That way, every patient that comes in has the same access to high-quality care.
“For specific expertise in breast care, it’s very limited in the Baton Rouge area,” said Bonner.
Bonner said breast cancer is the most common cancer diagnosed among U.S. women and the second leading cause of death in females.
WAFB found other resources in the Capital Region that help underserved women.
Woman’s Hospital has a mobile coach that travels to 22 Louisiana parishes and offers free mammograms.
Dr. Lauren Zatarain, a medical oncologist at Our Lady of the Lake who also practices at the Breast and GYN Cancer Pavilion, said patients who have a strong family history of breast cancer or other high-risk features should discuss their care with a gynecologist.
She said breast specialty clinics could stratify their risk and determine if genetic testing is recommended. Uninsured and underinsured patients can participate in the mobile screening programs through the Woman’s Hospital. There is a list of participating dates on their website.
“We actually do a risk assessment on our patients,” said Dr. Sydney Prescott, a Nurse Practitioner at Ochsner. “It actually scores how at-risk you are for breast cancer.
Prescott said if a woman scores over 20%, they are referred to a high-risk clinic at The Grove and on O’Neal. They also offer virtual visits for busy patients.
“We have been trying to help women prevent breast cancer for greater than a quarter of a century,” said Dr. Jay Brooks, Section Chief and Vice President of Hematology-Oncology Ochsner.
As for Scott, no breast cancer has been detected, but she encourages you to know your family history. That way, you can have a plan in place.
“It feels great knowing that I have someone in my corner and that I could get started early,” said Scott.
Dr. Jay Brooks with Ochsner said the three biggest risks for developing breast cancer are genetics, age and lifestyle.
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