Free, low-cost health screenings could save a life

Pre-emptive health screenings for cancer and other life-threatening diseases can make the difference between undergoing a minor procedure or major surgery, taking a pill and debilitating treatments. For adults 50 and older, who become more susceptible to disease as they age, it’s even more important.

“People need to understand why they need screenings and the great benefits they can reap,” said Dr. Jacqueline Miller, medical director for the CDC’s National Breast and Cervical Early Detection Program. “Screenings are to identify any type of potential illness before the patient is symptomatic. Patients shouldn’t wait until they find a lump.”

Dr. Alexander Gross, a dermatologist with the Georgia Dermatology Center, diagnoses an average of two cases of melanoma each week. He said the screenings are short, painless and can save lives.

“With melanoma, the patients who wait too long don’t often have a great prognosis,” said Dr. Gross. “But if the melanoma is found early, the cure rate is as high as 98 to 99 percent.”

Many organizations throughout Georgia offers free and low-cost screenings, which are ideal for the unemployed and uninsured.

“The CDC program targets people who are underserved and those who don’t have access to care,” said Dr. Miller. “Our screenings provide a place for them to go.”

A list of upcoming screenings and organizations that make them possible follows.

Men's Health Summit. Community Health and Men's Promotion Summit (CHAMPS) offers freeing screenings for men 21 and older for prostate and colon cancer, diabetes, blood pressure, cholesterol, HIV/AIDs and more. 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Sept. 7, Georgia World Congress Center, 285 Andrew Young International Blvd., Atlanta.

Community Health Screening Day. Prostate Cancer Center at St. Joseph's will offer screenings and risk assessments for a variety of diseases and conditions, including prostate, skin, colon, breast and lung cancers. 7-11 a.m. Sept. 7. $20. Appointment required. 678-843-5665. St. Joseph's Hospital, Clinical Specialty Center Building, 5665 Peachtree Dunwoody Road, Atlanta.

St. Joseph's Atlanta. Free blood pressure screenings are held 8:30-11 a.m. the first and third Tuesday of each month at Perimeter Mall, lower level by the escalators near the food court. For information, call 678-843-5112. St. Joseph's also offers low-cost screenings for a variety of diseases and conditions, including breast and skin cancers ($20 each, call 678-843-5175 for an appointment) and cholesterol and arterial/peripheral vascular disease ($30, $20, respectively, call 678-843-5112 for an appointment).

The American Kidney Fund. Free instant kidney function test offered 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Aug. 17 at Congressman David Scott's 8th annual 13th Congressional District Health Fair. Mundy's Mill High School, 9652 Fayetteville Road, Jonesboro. Free diabetes testing 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Aug. 24 at ADA Victory Over Diabetes, Georgia International Convention Center, 2000 Convention Center Course (South Lobby).

Center for Disease Control. The CDC provides mammograms to women between the ages of 40 and 64. Pap smears are available to women between 21 and 64 years old. For information, call 404-657-7735. Colorectal cancer screening services are available to low-income men and women, aged 50–64 years, who are underinsured or uninsured. Diagnostic follow-up is also available for patients with abnormal screenings. for information call 404-657-3330.