Women can get free cancer exams 

Needy women in three Mississippi counties are now eligible for free breast cancer screenings.

The Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation has received a $25,000 grant from the New York-based Avon Foundation for Women. The money will pay for 200 mammograms and 200 clinical breast exams for women in Leflore, Sunflower and Humphreys counties over the next year. It is also funding outreach efforts to 1,000 women in those areas.

The Greenwood Commonwealth reports (http://bit.ly/xOex9p) the grant is one of 120 that the Avon Foundation is sponsoring nationwide.

Freddie White-Johnson, president of the Fannie Lou Hamer Cancer Foundation, says they will focus on women without insurance between the ages of 40 and 64.

"We never have had this here," she said.

Those with private insurance, Medicare or Medicaid will be given assistance navigating through the process of setting up a screening, Johnson said.

At the foundation's office Wednesday, Towanda Williams, program coordinator for the grant, pulled out a thick binder of applications from women needing breast exams.

Johnson notes at least five women who have already received screenings and were found to have breast cancer.

Without the screenings, "They never would have known," she said.

Those screenings were provided through other breast cancer programs the foundation operates that are sponsored by grants from Susan G. Komen For a Cure and Wal-Mart. The University of Southern Mississippi and the Leflore County Board of Supervisors also help fund the foundation.

Breast cancer is the leading cause of death for women in the U.S. between the ages of 40 and 55, according to the Avon Foundation. The disease kills 400 Mississippi women per year, according to estimates from the American Cancer Society.

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Information from: The Greenwood Commonwealth, http://www.gwcommonwealth.com

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