Penn Medicine, Philadelphia: Penn Medicine to Offer Mobile Cancer Screenings and Risk Assessments

On Sunday, June 12, Penn Medicine will provide free, no insurance required, breast cancer and prostate cancer screenings, at-home colon cancer screening kits, lung cancer and family cancer risk assessments, and health insurance coverage counseling. The effort kicks off at a community health fair in the Cobbs Creek section of Southwest Philadelphia. The event—which builds on community interest in a mobile mammography unit that provided free screenings in October 2021—is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at William C. Bryant Promise Academy, 6001 Cedar Avenue, Philadelphia, PA 19143.

The free mammograms will continue on Monday, June 13, through Friday, June 24, weekdays, for women over the age of 40. A Siemens Healthineers 54-foot-long mobile mammography unit will provide state-of-the-art imaging services. Staff on the screening bus, which will be parked outside of the school, will provide individual 10-minute screening exams, a private changing room, and Spanish translation services.

Only about half (54 percent) of breast cancers in Black women are diagnosed at an early stage, when they’re most likely to be treated successfully, compared to 64 percent of cancers detected early in white women. The delays have wide-reaching effects for survival: 81 percent of Black women diagnosed with breast cancer live to five years after their diagnosis, compared to 91 percent among white women with the disease.

“Black women in the United States, on average, are younger at cancer diagnosis, more likely to be diagnosed with aggressive or advanced forms of breast cancer, and to die from breast cancer than women of all other racial and ethnic groups,” said Carmen Guerra, MD, vice chair of Diversity and Inclusion in the Department of Medicine in the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania and associate director of Diversity and Outreach at the Abramson Cancer Center. “Early screening saves lives. During COVID rates of cancer screenings declined, and we remain committed to ensuring that every member of our community has access to these lifesaving exams.”

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 assistance in getting to and from appointments. Penn Medicine radiologists will review all imaging taken during the mobile mammogram event and provide patients with information and counseling for any further evaluation or care which may be needed.

“Our goal remains steadfast in helping all people gain access to resources that can help with diagnosis and treatment, ideally at early stages,” said Linda White Nunes, MD, MPH, vice chair of inclusion, diversity and equity for the Department of Radiology at Penn. “Breast screenings are essential in finding and fighting cancer as soon as possible.”

This effort is also in collaboration with Community Of Compassion CDC in Philadelphia, who has been engaging the community to come out for their screenings and risk assessments.

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