Grant-funded Mammograms Help Women in Need
Breast cancer is the second leading cause of cancer deaths among women in Tennessee. Sadly, breast cancer deaths are significantly higher for African American women, a population that is more likely to receive late-stage diagnoses.
To help increase breast cancer survival in the Mid-South, Baptist Women’s Health Center offers mammograms and diagnostic services for women who qualify through grants from the Susan G. Komen Memphis-MidSouth Mississippi affiliate and the Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening Program. The Tennessee Breast and Cervical grant cycle ends on June 30, but grant-funded mammograms will still be accessible after that date.
Diagnostic Breast Care Services
Early detection is the best way to reduce breast cancer deaths. However, many women are rarely or ever screened for breast cancer. For many, cost and access to care are barriers.
“Unfortunately, there are women — low-income, older, underinsured or uninsured — who are less likely to access diagnostic breast care services,” said Nikki Gast, administrative director at Baptist Women’s Health Center.
Grant funding based on need helps Baptist Women’s Health Center make mammograms and other breast diagnostic services more accessible to patients who cannot otherwise afford these services.
“Anyone who is not getting regular screenings or following up on breast health issues due to an inability to pay or access to care needs to contact us,” said Gast. “We will determine which grant fits your needs.”
Patients who obtain grant funding receive comprehensive mammography screening and diagnostic services. The Tennessee Breast and Cervical Screening grant also provides an avenue for coverage through Medicaid for patients with a breast cancer diagnosis.
Reaching Women Where They Are
Baptist Women’s Health Center not only offers mammograms but also ultrasound imaging for annual screenings and high-risk patients.
“Our high-risk nurse assists with care for patients who have a strong family history of breast cancer or other factors that put them at risk for the disease,” said Gast.
High-risk patients may be offered a referral for services with a breast specialist, discussions on screening recommendations and genetic testing with genetic counselors.
“We have been able to reach women at our location at 50 Humphreys Blvd., but there is still a need to find innovative ways to reach women where they are in the community,” said Gast. “Our mobile mammography unit helps fill that need.”
The mobile mammography unit partners with local physicians, churches and health care providers, such as the Church Health Center and Christ Community Health Services to bring screening services to patients. The mobile unit also visits businesses, grocery stores and community centers. It provides a convenient way for women in need to receive quick, 15-minute breast screenings without having to take time off work.
“The mobile unit also serves as a powerful outreach tool to raise breast cancer awareness in our community,” said Gast. “An African American woman in Memphis is almost 50% more likely to die from breast cancer. This disparity is tied to later diagnoses due to a lack of access and an inability to pay for care. The mobile unit focuses on the 14 ZIP codes in Memphis with the highest mortality rates [for breast cancer].”
How to Receive Funding for Breast Cancer Screenings
Grant assistance is available based on financial need. Some grant funding ends June 30, while other grants are available on an ongoing basis. To inquire about eligibility for grant-funded breast health care, please call 901-227-PINK (7465). To find out where the mobile unit is scheduled, please call 901-226-0832. Forms to help patients prepare for a mobile mammography appointment are available online.
“Contact us to let us know you need a mammogram,” said Gast. “Inability to pay for care should not mean patients don’t get the tests and preventive care they need. Early diagnosis is key to surviving breast cancer. Mammograms are uncomfortable, but they last just a moment and that moment can truly save a life.”
Learn more about breast cancer services at Baptist or how you can support Baptist and the Komen Memphis-MidSouth Mississippi affiliate. Find a doctor by visiting our Find a Doctor page.