Each year around 200,000 women are diagnosed with breast cancer. Half of these women are older than 65 and are on Medicare.
Now, here's the irony. In 1999, Medicare began covering routine mammography, but too many of those who qualify are not taking advantage of this lifesaver.
"Recent studies show that almost 40% of women over the age of 65 have not even had one screening mammogram," says Dr. Arti Hurria.
81-year-old Faith Robertson went 15 years without having a mammogram. Finally, that mammogram found a malignant tumor and Medicare paid for the cost of the test. Experts say mammography is the most effective way to prevent breast cancer. And with Medicare insurance covering the cost, that's the bargain of a lifetime, literally.
"If caught at an early stage, breast cancer is a treatable and curable illness, and the earlier we find the disease, the better the outcome is for the patient. Older women should take advantage of the opportunity that the government has given us to help cover these screening exams," adds Dr. Hurria.
Mrs. Robertson waited way too long to get checked, but she was lucky. Her tumor was removed, and she is now cancer free. The American Cancer Society recommends that women get yearly mammograms after age 40, and especially for women over 65, that test needs to be very punctual because as women get older, the risk increases for developing breast cancer.