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Missoula Measures - Breast and Cervical Cancer  


graph % of Montana women who have had a mammogram in the past 2 years, 20002012


graph % of Montana women who have had a pap test in the past 3 years, 1995-2012




American women have a one-in-eight risk of developing breast cancer over an average lifetime. Mammography has been shown to reduce deaths by 26% for women aged 50 and over (although it does not appear to reduce breast cancer mortality for pre-menopausal women) Personal Health: A Multicultural Approach, 1995.

Current mammogram guidelines recommend that women over 20 do self-exams every month, receive clinical breast exams between ages 20-40 every three years, receive an initial mammogram at 35, and annual mammograms beginning at 40.


Cervical cancer was once a leading cause of cancer death for women in the United States. Currently, it ranks 3rd in frequency for both diagnosis and cause of death among the gynecologic cancers1 and 14th for all cancers affecting U.S. women. Between 1955 and 1992, both incidence and mortality rates declined dramatically due to the introduction and implementation of Pap test screening. Most invasive cervical cancers are found in women who have never been screened or have not had a Pap test within the past 5 years.  Based on 2008-2010 data, approximately 0.7% of women will be diagnosed with cervical cancer in their lifetime.
Every Woman Counts

The American Cancer Soceity recommends a pap test every three years for women ages 21-65.  (Routine cervical cancer screening for women under 21 and over 65 is no longer recommended.)

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graph incidence of cancer location US and Montana, 2011

Breast Cancer - Brief Background


Breast Self-Exams

Nine out of 10 women discover tumors through regular breast self-exam, and 80% of those tumors are benign The Impact of Cancer on Montana, Part 1: Cancer Fact Book, 1995  However, tumors detected in this manner are usually larger and in a later stage of growth.

Why don’t some Missoula women get mammograms?

In 2012, Montana women reported the following reasons for not getting a mammogram:

Risk Factors for Breast Cancer:

Female, ageing, high alcohol consumption, being overweight, maybe a high-fat diet. However, over 80% of women having breast cancer have NO identified risk factors.

Early detection is the key to successfully treating, and surviving, breast or cervical cancer.  Over 95% of women diagnosed with breast or cervical cancer survive when it is found early. Karen Cater, DPHHS

Cervical Cancer - Brief Background 

Virtually all (99.7%) of cervical cancers are caused by persistent infection with a high-risk type of Human Papilomavirus (HPV).  HPV is commonly spred through sexual activity, but can be spread by skin-to-skin contact with an infected body area.

While long-term HPV infection is necessary for cervical cancer to develop, the vast majority of women with persistent high-risk infection do not develop cervical cancer.

A vaccine is available to prevent HPV, and the use of condoms will help reduce exposure to HPV.
Every Woman Counts

Risk Factors for Cervical Cancer:

Center for Disease Prevention and Control


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Local agencies that address this topic

The Montana Breast and Cervical Health Program has produced a brochure called Side by Side that summarizes services of the MBCHP, the American Cancer Society, and the Montana Komen Race for the Cure, as well as more websites.

The Montana Breast and Cervical Health Program has an administrative site at Partnership Health Center in Missoula offering yearly mammograms, clinical breast exams, education, and regular Pap tests to uninsured or underinsured women ages 50 through 64. Income to qualify is up to and including 200% of poverty (a woman in a one person household can earn up to $7.92 per hour in a full-time job and qualify). The Missoula site serves Missoula, Mineral, and Ravalli counties and has providers in  each county to serve qualified women. The Missoula program is administered through Partnership Health Center. The Montana information number is 1-888-803-9343.



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