VA data shows long wait times persist in Montana

HELENA, Mont. - The Montana VA Health Care System is hosting its annual Pink Out of Friday, Oct. 22, encouraging veterans to be proactive with breast cancer screenings during Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

This event features a health fair, walk and “pink out” photo booth where patients and employees wear pink and share messages of encouragement for women battling breast cancer, according to a release. 

Both men and women can develop breast cancer, though male breast cancer is more rare. Breast cancer is the most common cancer in women after skin cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death in women.

“Women are the largest growing demographic of veterans,” Montana VA’s Women Veteran Program Manager Sue Calentine said. “Women also have a one in eight chance of developing invasive breast cancer. That said, preventative screenings are the best option to identify breast cancer and also increase survival rates with early detection. Early detection saves lives—localized breast cancer has a 99% survival rate if detected early.”

Montana VA offers screening and diagnostic mammograms, breast ultrasounds and MRIs, genetic counseling and testing, cancer treatment and more. Regular breast cancer screenings for women ages 45 and older are recommended, though some women may choose to start screening with yearly mammograms as early as age 40.

Women should talk with their VA primary care team about what is best for them and schedule their mammogram. If you have questions you can also contact Sue Calentine at (406) 438-1684.

Montana VA shares these screening tips for women:

  1. Women who have a family history of breast cancer should speak with their provider to understand how often to get screened.
  2. Patients should share any changes they notice in their breast health with their provider as early as possible.
  3. Women can reduce their risk of breast cancer by maintaining a healthy weight, exercising regularly, limiting alcohol consumption, and not smoking. 

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