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Free mammograms available through Dept. of Health this month

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month across the nation and in Minnesota. Gov. Mark Dayton on Monday proclaimed the month of October 2012, as Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

The month is an opportunity for women to learn about breast cancer and the benefits of screening and early detection of the disease. For example, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH), Sage Screening Program provides year-round, free breast and cervical cancer screenings to uninsured and underinsured women age 40 years and older.

MDH hopes to make more women in Minnesota aware of this free program.

"We think many women are not receiving these life-saving screening tests because they have no health insurance or their insurance has deductibles or co-payments they cannot afford to pay. Sage can help," said Jonathan Slater, director of Cancer Control at MDH.

Sage has a network of more than 430 statewide health care providers, and has served over 138,000 women since 1991. More than 2,000 women have been diagnosed and treated for breast and cervical cancer through Sage.

This year, it is estimated that 3,520 Minnesotan women will be diagnosed with breast cancer and 640 Minnesota women will die from the disease, according to the American Cancer Society. Annual mammography has been reported to reduce breast cancer deaths in women age 40 and older by detecting the disease in its earliest stages when it is most easily treated.

Women seeking eligibility information about the free mammography program -- or women who want to make an appointment for a free mammogram -- should call Sage at 1-888-6-HEALTH (1-888-643-2584).

Women new to Sage are also eligible to receive $10 for getting screened through the program. Women living in neighboring states or whose incomes exceed Sage's guidelines should call the American Cancer Society at 1-800-227-2345 to learn of other free and low-cost programs.

The proclamation is available at

For more information about Sage, visit