As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, Penn Medicine is providing free breast cancer screenings, no insurance required, to women in need over the age of 40. A Siemens Healthineers 54-foot-long mobile mammography unit featuring the company’s Mammomat Revelation digital mammography system, accredited by the American College of Radiology, will roll into the West Lehigh neighborhood of North Philadelphia to offer 3D mammograms.
“Cancer disproportionately impacts lower socioeconomic groups and the medically underserved because they are unable to access cancer screening tests, and thus more likely to be diagnosed with late-stage cancer,” says Carmen Guerra, MD, vice chair of diversity and inclusion, department of medicine at University of Pennsylvania. “This mobile mammography initiative is one of many efforts we have committed for engaging underserved communities with access to important healthcare resources and education.”
Only about half (54%) of breast cancers in Black women are diagnosed at an early stage, when they’re most likely to be treated successfully, compared to 64% of cancers detected early in white women. The delays have wide-reaching effects for survival: only 81% of Black women diagnosed with breast cancer live to five years after their diagnosis, compared to 91% among white women with the disease.
The Siemens Healthineers screening partnership adds to the Abramson Cancer Center’s suite of programs and efforts to eliminate disparities in cancer detection, care, and outcomes among low-income and minority communities. The Penn Medicine Breast Health Initiative, for instance, aims to boost rates of early detection and treatment through patient navigation and breast health education, help signing up for health insurance, language interpreters at appointments, and public transportation tokens to assist in getting to and from appointments.
The Siemens Healthineers system allows women to receive a full 3D screening exam with technology designed to offer comfortable examinations with less compression. Improving representation of minority patients in clinical trials is another important tactic to narrowing the gaps in cancer outcomes.
A five-year community outreach and engagement effort by the Abramson Cancer Center—which included partnerships with faith-based organizations, community centers and health centers—doubled the percentage of Black participants in clinical trials, improving access and treatment for a group with historically low representation in cancer research and helping pave a path for more effective treatments and chances at a cure.
Penn Medicine radiologists will review all imaging taken during the mobile mammogram event and receive information and counseling for any further evaluation or care which may be needed. The event will include educational sessions for Murrell Dobbins students to learn about the importance of annual mammography, what it takes to become a certified imaging technician, and more about the field.