They wanted to test 50 women for cancer, but organizers of Tuesday’s free breast and cervical cancer screening found a need much greater than anticipated.

“Our goal was to screen 50. We’ve seen 50 women and have a waiting list for 50 more,” Mitra Rado, an event organizer, said Tuesday. “There is a need here. We’re going to work with the community to have regular screenings available.”

Rado is an advanced oncology certified nurse practitioner with Columbia Basin Hematology & Oncology, which partnered with Good Shepherd Medical Center to offer the free screening. The one-day event had space for 50 women, and out of 50 appointments set for Tuesday, 46 women went through the process. Fifty more names were added to a waiting list.

 “It breaks my heart that there are so many without insurance,” GS Health Education director Juli Gregory said. “I’m thrilled with how well it went. I felt like the flow went smoothly and that we met a definite need.”

In addition to offering breast exams and PAP tests, the screening provided education in a variety of subjects and tested for other health issues as well, such as high blood pressure.

“We’ve found other issues as well, other than what we were screening for,” Gregory said. “There have been a few with high blood pressure, so we educate them on hypertension, for example. Hopefully we got some people thinking about their health and lifestyle changes they might want to make.”

Gregory confirmed they are working on setting up another free screening in the fall and potentially a third screening after that one to meet the large need. Anyone on the waiting list will be contacted when another screening is scheduled, and others can contact CBHO’s office — 541-667-4122 — for more information.

“We are keeping that waiting list, and we hope to have another (screening) in a couple of months,” Rado said. “We’ve seen some tears, and we have found several abnormal results.”

An abnormal screening, whether in a PAP test or a breast exam, usually results in additional attention and more in-depth tests for possible cancer.

For someone without insurance, however, a second appointment may be too expensive. One woman identified in the screening may already have breast cancer, Rado said, and although the woman knew something was wrong, she was not able to seek treatment.

“She didn’t have the resources to get a mammography,” the doctor said. “We’re going to get her in and start intervention, but this shows how much of a need there is.”

The medical professionals continue to work to find resources — such as health insurance or donated medical services — for the women who have potential problems, but they said part of the concern is the limitations on Oregon’s health programs for breast and cervical health, especially when compared to neighboring states.

“If we had done this (screening) in Tri-Cities, we would have the Breast and Cervical Health Program here and they would have registered people on the spot,” Cindy Miller, an RN with the Tri-City Cancer Center, said. “I don’t know why it’s so different here in Oregon, but people need that service. I think we’ve found a great need.”

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