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No-Cost Mammograms, Breast Cancer Treatments to be Provided to Underserved Women in Collin County|
ALLEN, Texas — Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Allen will offer free mammograms and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Plano will provide free breast cancer radiation therapy treatments to uninsured women in Collin County, thanks to funding from the North Texas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
A recent $20,000 grant from the organization will allow Texas Health Allen to provide breast health education and self-examination instruction, computerized breast cancer risk assessments and up to 100 digital screening mammograms to eligible women during the next year. A part of the hospital’s “Better Breast Health” initiative, the program is designed to reach out to women in the community who cannot afford the evaluations, are uninsured or underinsured, and/or are members of historically underserved populations. This is the second year Texas Health Allen has received a grant from Susan G. Komen for the Cure.
At Texas Health Plano, a $50,000 grant from the North Texas Affiliate of Susan G. Komen for the Cure will cover the cost of radiation therapy treatment for eligible women with breast cancer. Patients must be referred by a physician and meet certain financial requirements to qualify.
Targeted toward the same population groups, the grant is the first for Texas Health Plano’s Radiation Oncology Center, which opened last August. Radiation therapy for breast cancer typically includes an average of 35 treatments during a six- to eight-week period.
“The goal of Texas Health Allen’s Better Breast Health program is to bring breast health education and screening to underserved populations, including the growing African-American and Hispanic populations in Collin County,” said Barbara Quast, R.N., Texas Health Allen’s women’s health service line and education director. “Community outreach efforts will be targeted at providing early breast cancer detection and prevention, and breast health education and information.”
Carinsa Gaston, B.S., R.T.T., oncology program manager at Texas Health Plano, hopes this initial grant will serve as a foundation for more funding for women who don’t have insurance or can’t afford breast cancer treatments.
“We are pleased to be able to provide this important service to women in our community who might not otherwise seek help,” she said. “We’re also thrilled that we were selected as the only oncology facility in Collin County to receive such funding from the Komen organization this year.”
Last May, Texas Health Plano’s cancer program received top accreditation from the American College of Surgeons’ Commission on Cancer as an “approved cancer program” — a designation only 25 percent of hospitals in the nation share. The national accreditation ranks Texas Health Plano among the best cancer treatment facilities in the country, based on the commission’s findings.
According to the American Cancer Society, breast cancer is the most common cancer among women in the United States, other than skin cancer. It is the second leading cause of cancer death in women, after lung cancer.
White women are slightly more likely to develop breast cancer than African-American women, yet African-American women are more likely to die of this cancer. This seems partly because African-American women tend to have more aggressive tumors, although why this is the case is not known.
Breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Hispanic women. In addition, low screening participation rates translate into Hispanic women often being diagnosed at a more advanced stage, resulting in higher mortality rates.
“Such factors as lack of insurance, low participation in screenings and barriers related to language in the case of Hispanics often result in these underserved populations not utilizing screening services,” said Quast. “Last year, thanks to our first grant, we were able to extend our reach further into the community and overcome some of these impediments. We hope to continue that progress again this year.”
Women can access Texas Health Allen for mammograms upon referral from a doctor or a group such as the Komen organization, or on their own. Quast also will be contacting community groups, faith-based organizations and businesses in the area to help get the word out.
In addition to no-cost mammograms, program participants will receive a personal computerized breast cancer risk profile. The assessment determines risk by obtaining answers to a series of questions concerning family history, reproductive history and biopsy history. Participants receive screening guidelines; those at high-risk are given information and referrals for managing their risk.
For more information on no-cost mammograms at Texas Health Allen, call 972-747-6000. The Breast Center is open six days a week.
For more information on radiation treatment at Texas Health Plano, call 972-981-8643.
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