April 07, 2020

Health News

Breast cancer awareness

In recognition of October as National Breast Cancer Awareness Month, the Maine Department of Health and Human Services is reminding Maine women of the importance of regular screening for early detection of breast cancer.

DHHS’ Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that women age 40 and older have a clinical breast exam and mammogram every year, and that women age 20 to 39, without symptoms, receive an exam every three years.

As the most frequently diagnosed non-skin cancer, breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer death in women.

“Early detection saves lives,” said Dr. Dora Ann Mills, director of Maine CDC. “Maine women 40 and older need to include clinical breast exams and mammograms as part of their yearly health care routine. Women should talk with their providers about scheduling a mammogram, especially if it has been awhile since their last screening.”

It is estimated that 1,040 Maine women will be diagnosed with breast cancer this year. Breast cancer screening has been shown to reduce breast cancer deaths. However, in 2002 only two-thirds of Maine women 40 years and older had a mammogram in the past year.

For women in need of financial assistance, the Maine CDC provides free breast and cervical health screenings. To qualify, a woman must be 40 to 64 years old; meet certain income guidelines; have no medical insurance including MaineCare and Medicare Part B, or have insurance which does not cover screening services.

For more information, call (800) 350-5180.

The Maine CDC coordinates Maine’s statewide comprehensive cancer control efforts. It is guided by the goals and objectives delineated in the Maine Cancer Plan. For more information, call 287-4715 or visit www.MaineCancerConsortium.org.

Planting pink tulips

BANGOR – When Robin Whitten was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, she got through a long winter of painful chemotherapy and radiation treatments by visualizing her beloved spring tulip gardens. That beautiful garden vision kept Whitten going and inspired her to share the optimism of spring’s renewal by creating the Pink Tulip Project to benefit the Women’s Cancer Fund, established by the Maine Cancer Foundation.

During National Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October, Whitten’s vision was realized throughout Maine as dozens of volunteers planted 15,000 tulip bulbs as seeds of hope in public gardens in three Maine cities Oct. 15-18.

Lewiston, Bangor and Portland were selected by the Maine Cancer Foundation to be pilot sites for the Pink Tulip Project planting initiative intended to create a sense of “hope and renewal” for cancer patients and their families during springtime.

The project, designed as a fundraiser for cancer research, has a goal of raising $15,000 with the hope that Lewiston, Bangor and Portland each would raise $5,000.

In the Bangor area, on Oct. 15, bulbs were planted at 13 sites including Cascade Park, Sedgley Park, YWCA, St. Joseph Hospital and the University of Maine campus in Orono.

A dynamic group represented the Bangor Pink Tulip Project including Keep Bangor Beautiful, WABI, Bangor Daily News, Junior League, UMaine Student Association and Master Gardeners.

Children’s dental health

BANGOR – In honor of National Children’s Health Month, Watch Your Mouth Maine, a campaign for children’s oral health, will spotlight Penquis CAP Head Start as a model for smart policies that prevent dental disease and promote oral health among children.

Today tooth decay is the most common chronic childhood disease in America. Studies have shown that children with poor oral health are more likely to suffer significant pain, experience speech problems and have difficulty eating, which can result in poor nutrition and a failure to thrive.

The Watch Your Mouth campaign is working to make children’s oral health a priority and to promote better access to oral health care. This includes incorporating oral health into coordinated school health programs, improved oral health education, expanded screening and treatment services and improved cooperation among physicians, dentists and social service providers.

The Penquis CAP Head Start program is being honored for including dental exams, healthy meal plans and daily oral hygiene in its early childhood development curriculum.

The Watch Your Mouth Maine campaign is supported by the Maine Health Access Foundation, Betterment Fund, Northeast Delta Dental, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of Maine, The Bingham Program and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care Foundation in cooperation with the Maine Dental Access Coalition and Medical Care Development. For information call (866) WYMOUTH or visit www.WatchYourMouth.org.


BANGOR – The Commission on Accreditation of Medical Transport Systems announced that LifeFlight of Maine again was awarded accreditation, effective Sept. 22.

LifeFlight, which recently celebrated its eighth anniversary, has transported more than 6,000 critically ill and injured patients from every hospital in Maine, as well as direct from accident scenes in more than 300 Maine communities and unorganized townships.

Lifeflight is among a group of medical providers who are accredited to the highest standards of clinical quality, performance and operations safety.

“We are proud of this achievement,” said Dr. Norm Dinerman, medical director of LifeFlight. “We firmly believe in external assessment of our quality and performance, and were commended by our site surveyors for medical oversight, clinical quality and performance, safety and community service.”

Lifeflight provides highly skilled fight nurse-paramedic teams to care for adult and pediatric patients. Keystone Helicopters operates and maintains two helicopters, and Capital Ambulance and United Ambulance Service operate and maintain the ground ambulances. For more information, visit www.lifeflightmaine.org.

Flu clinics

BANGOR – The Bangor Region Influenza Coalition will conduct flu clinics 7-11 a.m. and 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26; Wednesday, Nov. 29; and Monday, Dec. 4, at the Bangor Civic Center, 100 Dutton St. The cost is $25-$35. Cash, checks and Medicare Part B will be accepted.

Mental health awareness

BANGOR – The public is invited to attend a mental health awareness fair 1-4 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 26, at Dorothea Dix Psychiatric Center, Building H recreation center, 656 State St. Learn about mental health and resources available in the community.

Conference on drug


ORONO – The Maine Benzodiazepine Study Group, administered through the Center on Aging at the University of Maine, will sponsor its fourth Study Group International Conference and third Unused Drug Return International Conference Oct. 23-24 in Portland to review goals, progress and the groundwork being laid to get a grip on disposal methods for prescription drugs and prescribing practices.

Assisting the conference are federal agencies and Maine’s offices of Drug Enforcement, Substance Abuse, Environmental Protection, Attorney General and Elder Services.

The most common method of disposing of unused prescription drugs has been the trash or the toilet, neither of which really eliminates them. Pharmaceuticals can make their way through landfills and wastewater treatment plants to discharge into rivers, according to research assembled by the study group.

More information about the conference can be found at www.umaine.edu/mainecenteronaging or by going directly to www.mainebenzo.org.

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