Many in CNY Aren't Getting Cancer Screening Frustrating Health Experts

Aug 14, 2014

Today WAER starts a four-part weekly series on cancer prevention.

  Several types of deadly cancer can be stopped or treated if found early enough.  But many Central New Yorkers avoid the screenings even though they’re more convenient and available than ever.  WAER’s Chris Bolt starts a series on the latest in detecting certain cancers.  Today: Why people don’t let modern medicine help.

There’s plenty of public education efforts out there to try and convince people to get screened for any number of cancers.

“Its pretty frustrating...especially given how much media attention is given to breast cancer,” says Doctor Mary Ellen Greco with Upstate Breast Care Center.

She can’t understand why people don’t take advantage of widely available tests.

“The number of patients who come to my office who haven’t had a mammogram in 4-5 years.   And they’re still seeing a physician regularly.  So you wonder where the disconnect is.  Is it misinformation or fear of what they might find?”

It’s not just women and breast cancer.  The Centers for Disease Control finds more than a third of people between 50 and 75 don’t get recommended colon cancer tests.  A study discovered they were worried about what a test might find...or had heard about the discomfort of the test itself.  Onondaga County Public Health Educator Emily Young finds the same thing.

“There certainly is a portion of the population that has the mindset I don’t what to know...if there’s something there so be it.”            

She struggles with convincing them to see the other side and get screened, especially because of the almost universal truth that early detection leads to better outcomes and saves lives.   Greco also struggles with explaining the conundrum.

“It doesn’t seem to be as much of a financial or insurance issue, as it is just a lack of knowledge or fear of getting them, but I think screening is more available and convenient that people think.”

Mammograms are just one type of cancer screening that can lead to early detection and treatment. Others include colorectal cancer and cervical cancer.


National Cancer Institute Guidelines

American Cancer Society Advice

Centers for Disease Control

These missed opportunities come at a time when there’s more access and more coverage of preventive medicine because of Obamacare.

“That is the hope, that more people will have health insurance; hopefully more people accessing these screenings.  A lot of times if people don’t have insurance, they don’t have primary care physicians and that’s a disconnect as far as people achieving health care and getting preventative screenings done,” says Young.

Next week’s we’ll focus specifically on cervical cancer, both recommended screening and treatment success.  Future stories will cover colorectal cancer and breast cancer. 

Onondaga County Health Educator Emily Young says anyone needing cancer screenings and does not have insurance or ability to pay for them, can contact Onondaga County for free clinics at 435-3653.