Nearly 2,000 Western New York women, most of whom probably would not have otherwise received breast cancer screenings, had mammograms in the second year of the Mobile Mammography Coach’s effort to save lives, a 40 percent increase over the first year.
“We want to commend all our partners for collaborating to bring these crucial tests to rural and inner-city women who may not have had mammograms before,” Erie County Medical Center President and Interim CEO Richard C. Cleland said in a news release.
With a combined $750,000 contribution from First Niagara Financial and the Buffalo Sabres Alumni Association, ECMC manages the mammography coach. The ECMC Lifeline Foundation, which also contributes to its operation, owns the vehicle. It includes two digital mammography units and is operated out of the practice of Dr. Vivian L. Lindfield, founder and medical director of WNY Breast Health in Amherst.
Since it started rolling in July 2012, the team completed an average of 14.3 mammograms per day over 241 days.
The coach’s second year saw all numbers trending upward in terms of effectiveness and outreach. There were 1,999 exams given from July 1, 2013, through June 30 of this year, up from 1,410 the prior 12 months.
Total screening days hit 123 in the second year, up from 105 the first.
“First Niagara is pleased to see this wonderful project continue with such success. Each recorded number is another opportunity for a woman to benefit from the outreach this bus and its technicians provide,” said Elizabeth Gurney, executive director of the First Niagara Foundation.
Western New York had the highest rate of new breast cancer in upstate New York, according to a 2010 report. In addition, upstate had a slightly higher breast cancer death rate per 100,000 women in 2011, at 24.5 per year, than nationally, 24; statewide, 23.7; and New York City, 23.9, according to Susan G. Komen For the Cure.
The Buffalo/Niagara Witness Project is another partner in the project. The organization helped identify women in the community in need of screening. The project educates participants on early cancer detection through stories told by breast and cervical cancer survivors in churches and community settings.
The bus also furthers ECMC’s commitment to the inner-city neighborhoods around its health campus. Although the breast cancer incidence rate is 17 percent lower in African-American women than in white women, the mortality rate among black women is 32 percent higher.
Moreover, the survival rate for breast cancer in African-American women is 75 percent, compared with 89 percent among white women. Mammography screening reduces breast cancer mortality by 35 percent to 50 percent, according to the American Cancer Society.
All women are welcome to have their annual “screening” mammograms on the mobile mammography coach. Any insurance is accepted and help is offered to find coverage. New York State requires a prescription for a screening mammogram; should a patient need a health care provider, assistance will be given to help obtain one. Call 1-855-464-7465 or visit www.ecmc.edu/mammography.