SeMRHI offers resources for detecting breast cancer

The Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative offers a program where women between the ages of 40 and 64 can receive a free breast exam.
Published: Feb. 7, 2023 at 9:25 PM CST
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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) - According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death among women. One out of every eight women will get diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime. This means that every woman has about a 13% chance of having the disease.

The Southeast Mississippi Rural Health Initiative provides women in the Pine Belt with preventative healthcare. They offer a breast cancer program where women between the ages of 40 and 64 can receive a free breast exam.

“A woman anywhere between 40 and 64 can come in,” said Laura Singley, a SeMRHI women’s health care nurse practitioner. “If they do not have insurance, if they have health insurance that doesn’t cover preventative things like their mammogram or if they’re low income and they don’t have insurance at all, they can come in and apply for this program.”

This program will ensure that you receive a free breast and pelvic exam. If you are aged 50 to 64, a free mammogram will be included.

Singley said that extended coverage may be included if the patient needs extra care or is diagnosed with breast cancer.

“If by chance they end up needing a biopsy or additional tests like an ultrasound diagnostic mammogram, the program will pay for that,” Singley said. “All of those things and if they have the unfortunate diagnosis of cancer breast cancer then it will pay for it up until we get them on Medicaid.”

Singley said that women should look out for signs of breast cancer, which can include:

  • a palpable log or lump in the breast
  • drainage from the nipples, specifically blood discharge
  • a rash or bruising on the breast
  • a general change of appearance on the breast

Every year, during Breast Cancer Prevention Week in October, SeMRHI offers its services for all women.

“All week long, we offer free breast exams by clinical personnel,” Singley said. “By provider, they come in, and they can get a clinical breast exam, and we teach them how to do the exam, and then that’s free of charge. And, so, (if we) find something on the exam, then we will get them (an) appointment right away.”

However, in general, SeMRHI offers a sliding scale for low-income patients.

If you are 20 or over the age of 64, on private insurance, it is still accepted. You can still go into their clinic and get a breast exam by a provider. They can also offer you a voucher to help cover the cost of your mammogram.

For more information about their programs, you can visit or call to schedule an appointment at their Women’s Health Center at (601)-544-4550.

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