mamm day 101620AURORA – According to a study by the Illinois Department of Public Health, 26 women are diagnosed with breast cancer in Illinois each day.

The prognosis for breast cancer is best if the diagnosis occurs in the condition’s earliest stages, which is why Assistant Senate Majority Leader Linda Holmes (D-Aurora) is reminding women that Oct. 16 is National Mammography Day.

“Getting a routine mammogram or scheduling one if a woman believes there may be a problem improves the odds for treatment if it is necessary,” Holmes said. “Studies show that screening mammography can help reduce the number of deaths from breast cancer among women ages 40 to 74, and especially for those over age 50.”

Mammograms can be used to check for breast cancer in women who have no signs or symptoms of the disease. This type of mammogram is called a screening mammogram. Screening mammograms usually involve two or more x-ray images of each breast.

Mammograms can also be used to check for breast cancer after a lump or other sign or symptom of the disease has been found. This is called a diagnostic mammogram. The same machines are used for both types. However, diagnostic mammography takes longer to perform because more x-ray images are needed to obtain views of the breast from several angles.

Holmes has sponsored legislation in the past to improve access to and affordability of mammograms for women in Illinois. In 2019, Holmes saw her latest mammography legislation (Senate Bill 162) signed into law, which ensures "diagnostic first" patients-- women whose doctors have opted to skip the initial screening and proceed with a full diagnostic mammogram due to a prior condition-- only pay the standard co-pay, and not the full out-of-pocket cost for the procedure. 

“For those who have already had a past diagnosis or prior abnormality, a doctor will skip the routine screening mammogram and order a diagnostic mammogram instead,” Holmes said. “More thorough testing can mean earlier detection and better odds at treating breast cancer.”

Information about free or low-cost mammography screening programs is available from local hospitals, health departments, women’s centers or other community groups. A searchable list of these facilities can also be found on the Food and Drug Administration website.