SIU School of Medicine

Jump directly to a section:

Office of Public Affairs



Breast Cancer

Breast cancer is the cancer most-diagnosed in American women.  Early detection is the key to overcoming the disease.

Each year more than 220,000 women in the United States are diagnosed with breast cancer.  Dr. Robert Mocharnuk, associate professor of hematology and oncology at SIU School of Medicine in Springfield, explains the importance of annual breast exams for early detection of breast cancer.

“Annual breast exams are part of what we call the triple test, which is essentially annual mammography beyond a certain age, self breast examination and then physician directed breast examination.   And several studies have shown that women who comply with the triple test have better outcomes -- cancers are detected earlier and survival is better. . .”

Dr. Mocharnuk, who is also on the staff of the Simmons Cancer Institute at SIU, recommends that women have annual mammography screenings after age 40.  He says screenings have helped improve survival rates in recent years.

“Early detection for breast cancer results in better outcomes.  There has been a one to two percent decline in the mortality rate of breast cancer since 1999 in this country.  And it’s attributed to several things.  Probably better drugs, but I think most importantly is better screening.”

Insurance companies and Medicare are required to cover mammography screening for breast cancer.  Low-income women without insurance may qualify for the Illinois Breast and Cervical Cancer program.  For more information about the program, call the toll-free number, 1-888-522-1282, or talk to your personal physician about breast cancer screening.

Ruth Slottag