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Check Up 13: Doctors concerned many people aren't scheduling appointments for screenings

There are so many reasons we fall behind on our medical appointments.

INDIANAPOLIS — There are many reasons we fall behind on our medical appointments: time, cost, access to care, fear, even forgetfulness.

It's a barrier one local mom overcame that may have saved her life.

Cecilia Ramirez is following up with her breast cancer surgeon. Her Stage 1 cancer was detected this summer through a routine mammogram.

"This is where the mammogram really helps because no way, no how would a physician have been able to help palpate this, no way," Dr. Erica Giblin said. "So if she went in for a routine exam with her OB/GYN or primary care doc, they weren't even been aware of this at all, so this is why we do mammograms, essentially."

The news was a surprise to Ramirez.

"I don't have any history of cancer, and it's just me in my family," Ramirez said through an interpreter.

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The early diagnosis led to surgery and radiation, and her prognosis is promising, but doctors worry about those who aren't getting screened.

"There are two groups of individuals that have not come back to pre-pandemic levels in terms of mammography screening rates: those are Asian individuals and Hispanic individuals," Giblin said. "Hispanic individuals, we're still 21% below where they should be in terms of volumes coming in for screening mammograms."

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Ramirez said language is just one hurdle.

"She knows a lot of people that actually don't go to the doctor, but not only because of the language, but sometimes they are," the interpreter said. "They don't want to spend time with a doctor. And then, they have to have an excuse of work, and they may lose their jobs, so they're scared of that, too."

The appointment itself takes about 20 minutes. Free interpreters are available. 

Ramirez understands the fears but, "We have to actually overcome that because it's not only, it doesn't matter, just to maybe be out of your job for a few hours when you are really doing something that might be saving your life."

Ascension St. Vincent provides free assistance to patients who are deaf or whose primary language is not English.

Discounted mammograms are available at certain Ascension St. Vincent locations. To see if you qualify and to register, call the hotline at 866-UCHECK13  or register online at wthr.com by midnight Thursday.

And thanks for making your health a priority.

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