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Cancer Screening

Cheshire Medical Center/Dartmouth-Hitchcock has advocated and supported cancer screening programs for a number of years. Research indicates that early screening for breast, cervical, prostate, colon, and skin improves survival.

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In 1991, Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center and the American Cancer Society (ACS) joined together to create the Cancer Screening and Prevention Education Project that would provide grants to community medical centers to offer breast and cervical cancer screening. An interdisciplinary team worked together at the Cheshire Medical Center to develop a proposal and participate in this project. In 1994, the grant ended but continues to be supported by the Cheshire Medical Center and the Kingsbury Pavilion for Cancer Care under subcontract with the Dartmouth College's Grant Office and Department of Health and Human Services, "Let No Woman Be Overlooked", Breast and Cervical Cancer Program. The program provides a breast exam, mammography and Pap test for low-income, inadequately insured women between the ages of 50-65. At present, the Dartmouth-Hitchcock Norris Cotton Cancer Center-Kingsbury Pavilion offers 18-20 clinics per year, including evening and Saturday appointments in the Keene office, with satellite clinic offices in Winchester and Jaffrey. The staff is female professionals of nurse practitioners, nurse educators, and receptionists.

Let No Woman Be Overlooked

In 1990, CMC/D-H started offering prostate screening clinics. Prostate cancer exceeds lung cancer as the most commonly diagnosed cancer among men in the United States. According to the ACS, Cancer Facts & Figures 2004, there were 160,400 men diagnosed with prostate cancer versus 91,500 men diagnosed with lung cancer from 1996-2000. When the prostate screening program started, the PSA (Prostate Specific Antigen), a blood test that measures a protein produced by the prostate cells, was considered to be the leading prognostic indicator for prostate cancer. Since that time, the use of PSAs has been tempered with a cautionary approach. According to the Centers for Disease Control, although evidence indicates that PSA screening can detect early-stage prostate cancer, results are mixed as to whether the test improves health outcomes. CMC/D-H provides funding for a prostate screening clinic each Fall during Prostate Cancer Awareness Week. The clinic is appropriate for men, 50-74 years old without symptoms, or men in their forties who have a known family history of prostate cancer or who are African American. Screening includes a health questionnaire and a simple digital rectal exam from an urologist. PSA tests are offered for a minimal fee.

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CMC/D-H recognizes that routine examination of the skin increases the chance of finding skin cancer early. In the Spring of 1999, during Skin Cancer Awareness Month, CMC/DH-K started offering a yearly clinic. The exam is for 100 patients, by appointment, of any age or income level. A dermatologist provides a skin exam and nurses provide education regarding skin cancer and prevention. Early screening for melanoma is essential because there is usually a lengthy period of time before the cancer cells invade the deeper skin layers, so if detected early, can lead to a full recovery and disease free survival.

Screening for colorectal cancer has surged in recent years due to the power of celebrity. Before Katie Couric helped the nation become aware of the benefits of screening for colon cancer, CMC/D-H gastroenterology department had been advocates of screening colonoscopies. According to the American Cancer Society, colon cancer is the third leading cancer killer in America. Colon cancer screening can find and remove potential cancerous polyps before cancer develops, or it can find cancer early when it can be cured. The GI department at Dartmouth Hitchcock-Keene has encouraged the use of screening colonoscopies for patients starting at the age of fifty (patients in high-risk categories would determine, with their doctors, their best screening intervals). Arrangements can be made for screening colonoscopies through referrals from the patient's primary care physician. For those that do not have insurance coverage, the business office can evaluate the patient's eligibility for the Financial Assistance Program.

FREE SCREENING for Breast and Cervical Cancer

For women ages 18-65 of low income with inadequate health insurance or a high deductible. Medicaid and Medicare covered women are not eligible. Pap smear and breast examination are performed by female health professionals. Reduced rate mammograms available to qualified women.

For an appointment, call (603) 354-6679