Nebraska ranks low for early breast cancer detection

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) - Nebraska ranks in the bottom ten for the fewest number of people getting screened for breast cancer, but local hospitals hope eliminating a financial barrier will help increase those numbers.

Nebraska ranks in the bottom ten for early breast cancer detection, but CHI Health hopes helping with some financial burdens will increase that number. (Source: Kelsey Dickeson, KSNB)

According to the American Cancer Society Nebraska is 44th out of 50 for early breast cancer detection. Their data shows 32 percent of woman age 40 and over in the state aren't getting their screening mammogram.

"I think if it's a screening it's easier to put it on the back burner and take care of other things first, and put screening-type things behind you.," said Debra Waggoner, imaging supervisor at CHI Health St. Francis.
"They're very important, so it's really one of the things that should be number one on your list to do."

The American Cancer Society lists there are almost 5,000 new cancer cases in the United States every day, with more than 270,000 breast cancer cases in 2019.

In Nebraska, there's been more than 1,500 new cancer cases this year, with more than 200 deaths.

Early detection can increase breast cancer survival rates by 40 percent.

At CHI Health St. Francis, around 600 people go in and out of their Women's Center each month. They use 3-D mammography, which Waggoner said picks up about 40 percent more cancers than the 2-D versions.

Health officials recommend women start their base-line screenings at 40 years old, and get annual screenings after that.

"Our breasts change as we change, so if you can get a base line done at 40 then if there are any changes as time goes on we know what's normal for you and what is truly a change. Getting those mammograms done on a routine basis helps us catch cancers a lot earlier," Waggoner said.

Waggoner recommends getting screened during your birth month, so you remember when to go. But she said sometimes the cost of mammograms can detour people from getting them.

In honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and to encourage people to get screened, CHI Health St. Francis and Good Samaritan are offering discounted rates for mammograms through October.

It's through their MDsave voucher program, an "online marketplace for those paying out-of-pocket for healthcare." It's for people with high deductibles or no insurance. The voucher will cut the cost of a mammogram by about 40 percent.

For more information or to get a voucher, you can visit