Job vacancy could cause Interior mammogram delays

Posted: Thursday, June 07, 2001

FAIRBANKS (AP) -- Women in the Interior face delays in having mammograms this summer because the Breast Cancer Detection Center is temporarily without a technologist, the person who performs mammograms.

Technologists from other agencies have been filling in at the center, but two mobile units that travel by airplane, truck and barge through the Interior are more difficult to staff on a temporary basis, said Bob Coghill, the agency's executive director.

Plans to fly a unit to Anaktuvuk Pass and Galena in July and then put it on a barge to Tanana and Fort Yukon are uncertain, he said.

''It's getting a little tense, but it's still possible,'' Coghill said. ''I'm optimistic.''

Some trips on the road system, such as to Delta Junction and Tok, are taking place as scheduled, Coghill said. Elsewhere on the road system, outside the Interior in towns such as Palmer, Kenai and Soldotna, where the mobile unit usually visits, plans probably will be canceled.

''They have other options, but we are the only option for the Interior, so that's our priority,'' Coghill said.

Mammograms, recommended yearly or every two years for women over age 40, are important because the technology finds growths too small to be felt in a self exam or by a doctor.

The Breast Cancer Detection Center performs 2,800 mammograms a year, including 1,200 in one of the mobile units. More than 60 percent of the women tested through the center do not have health insurance and those women are tested for free.

The center's former technologist left for another job.

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