Women living in rural areas of Texas are less likely than their urban counterparts to have had a mammogram or Papanicolau (Pap) test within the past two years. Texas lags the nation in women having had mammograms during the previous two years.
About 67 percent of women 40 years or older living in rural areas had received a mammogram within the past two years, while about 76 percent of urban women had. About 81 percent of rural women aged 18 or older, who had not undergone a hysterectomy, had a Pap test in the past three years, compared with 85 percent in urban areas. The percentage of women who do not follow screening guidelines increases with age; 50 percent of women aged 50-64 report having had no mammogram in the previous two years compared to almost 60 percent of women over 65. Since more rural women fall into these last two groups, targeting them with the proposed intervention will be a priority.
Reasons for lower screening levels by rural women are many. Compared to their urban counterparts, rural women are older with lower incomes and education levels. They are less likely to have adequate health insurance, further putting them at increased risk of cancer and dying from it. Having health insurance does improve one’s access to screening and preventive services. However, many in rural communities are self-employed or work for small employers. Both of these groups are increasingly unable to afford any coverage, adequate coverage, or if they do provide insurance, provide a plan requiring large co-pays. A recent study showed that even a $15 co-pay was a significant deterrent to obtaining a mammogram. Many have limited options for transportation to screening or treatment because of long distances. Older women find it difficult to drive long distances to regional health centers. Younger women with jobs and children find driving to regional centers for screening and preventive services difficult, too.
For these reasons the Friend to Friend Task Force would like to invited you to grab a friend and join us at the Friend to Friend: Staying Well Together Party to learn more about breast and cervical cancer. The party will be held at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, June 7, at the Holman Center located behind the Wells Fargo Bank in Henrietta. Please register by calling the Texas AgriLife Extension Office of Clay County, Sherri Halsell, Family & Consumer Sciences Agent, at (940) 538-5042.