Published October 23, 2013
The University at Buffalo’s family medicine department is teaming up with UB residents, medical students and the Patient Voices Network to increase breast cancer awareness and screening among Buffalo women.
Now in their second year, programs featuring a mobile mammography unit and “Concerned about You” wellness fairs are generating positive results.
“Last fall, nearly 80 women received mammograms, many of them for the first time, while the mobile mammography unit was in the neighborhood,” says Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter, PhD, associate professor of family medicine.
“Since last year’s event, some of our partner sites have reported an increase of 10 percent in the number of patients getting screened for breast cancer.”
Dee was one of the women who had her first mammogram during last year’s wellness event.
“My mother died of breast cancer at 46, so I was nervous about getting screened,” she says. “I was afraid they would tell me something was wrong.”
“But the patient coordinators talked me into it.”
Now Dee encourages other people, including close relatives, to follow her example.
“I tell them, sometimes it’s not something you can see or feel, but if you catch it early enough, you have a better chance of stopping it in its tracks,” she says.
“I tell them, ‘Don’t be afraid — just get it done.’ ”
It’s a particularly relevant message for African-American women, says Tumiel-Berhalter, who also is UB’s director of community translational research for family medicine.
She notes that this group will experience an estimated 27,060 new cases and 6,080 deaths from breast cancer in 2013, according to the American Cancer Society.
The free, annual wellness events offer on-site mammograms through a mobile mammography unit operated by Western New York Breast Health.
Women without insurance can learn how to enroll in the Cancer Services Program of Erie County to receive free or low-cost cancer screenings.
The events also feature neighborhood walks and health and wellness information.
A successful September event in Buffalo’s East Side Masten Park neighborhood attracted more than 125 participants.
Providers and staff from UBMD Family Medicine at Jefferson participated. Residents from the practice checked blood pressure and tested glucose. UB medical students also took blood pressure readings and used breast models to show patients how to conduct breast self-exams.
The events are sponsored by the Patient Voices Network, a partnership involving the UB department and patients and providers from the Jefferson practice and Jericho Road Community Health Center.
Funding is provided by the Western New York Affiliate of Susan G. Komen.
The mobile mammography unit will continue to visit four Buffalo practice sites each month through March 2014, as follows:
The on-site service is sponsored by the UB department, the local Komen affiliate, the Erie County Medical Center’s Lifeline Foundation and Western New York Breast Health.