Thursday, June 21, 2012

Mobile mammography in Charlotte

To increase access to screening mammograms, two new mobile units will be bringing mammography to Charlotte women where they live and work.

On Thursday, Presbyterian Healthcare unveiled a new 38-foot mobile Presbyterian Breast Center Mammography Unit. The coach, purchased with donations from Agnes and Ed Weisiger, Goodrich Foundation and Mecklenburg Radiology Associates, offers digital screening mammography, a private changing room and clinical exam room. Special initiatives will be planned to reach women in underserved areas around Mecklenburg County.

Charlotte Radiology announced this week it is adding a second mobile mammography unit in August to serve more women – both insured and uninsured – in Mecklenburg, Gaston, Union and York counties. Since February 2011, Charlotte Radiology's current 38-foot mobile center has screened almost 7,500 patients.

“Our experience is that convenience and access play a major role in whether or not women ages 40 and above comply with the American Cancer Society’s annual screening guidelines,” said Dr. Matthew Gromet.

Women age 40 and older should have screening mammograms annually, according to the American Cancer Society and the American College of Radiology.

About 38 percent of women age 40 and over in Mecklenburg County have not had an annual mammogram, according to the 2010 Community Profile Report of the Charlotte Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure. In addition, the report says Mecklenburg County has the highest percentage of women diagnosed with Stage IV breast cancer.

According to the National Institutes of Health, the top reasons that women don't get recommended mammograms is that they're too busy, forget to make or keep appointments, can't afford it or don't realize they should get one.

“Our goal is that the Presbyterian Breast Center Mammography Unit will eliminate these barriers for women,” said Paula Vincent, interim president of Presbyterian Healthcare and a senior vice president with Novant Health.