September 2011 VOL 2, NO 5

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Screening Mammograms at No Cost for Uninsured Women in Suburban/Rural Counties

Barbara Quast, RN 

Objectives: (1) Provide low-income uninsured women, aged 40 years and older, living in suburban/rural counties, with screening mammograms, at no cost, with funding from the Bridge Breast Network. (2) Complete intake form, interviewing women for breast problems and family history, performed by the cancer nurse navigator. (3) Complete breast cancer risk assessment (optional) on all women having a screening mammogram. (4) Provide additional diagnostic services to women with abnormal screening mammograms with diagnostic intake referral from the Bridge Breast Network.

Methods: The Bridge Breast Network has received a special grant from the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas to provide women aged 40 years and older living in Rockwall and 5 additional suburban/rural counties with screening mammograms at no cost. Early detection is the key to survival and effectively reducing cancer mortality. Cancers detected earlier lead to more successful treatment. Women living in rural areas, however, may have financial, geographic, cultural, and other barriers that hinder utilization of cancer prevention and treatment services. Since 1992, the Bridge Breast Network has worked tirelessly at the mission of saving lives by providing low-income uninsured women with diagnostic and treatment services for breast cancer. The Bridge sees, however, a growing number of women being diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer. As a result, the Bridge decided to take a proactive approach and reach out before breast health issues arise. The Bridge, in partnership with Lake Pointe Health Network, have made it possible for more women living in these counties to receive breast cancer screening, diagnostics, and treatment services at no cost. Information on this project has been provided to physician practices, clinics, and community organizations through marketing and press releases. Women may call the Bridge or the cancer nurse navigator at Lake Pointe Health Network and be interviewed while completing an intake form. The Bridge sends an approval referral to the cancer nurse navigator at Lake Pointe, and the screening mammogram can be scheduled at one of Lake Pointe’s 3 imaging centers. All patients have the option of completing a breast cancer risk assessment, using the Gail model at the time of their screening mammogram. For women at high risk, they also receive a letter from the cancer nurse navigator on managing their risk, including screening guidelines provided for all women. If additional diagnostic exams are recommended, the Bridge is contacted for a referral for diagnostic exams.

Results: From March 2011 to date, 52 screening mammograms have been provided by Lake Pointe to underserved uninsured women. All women requiring diagnostic services have been referred to the Bridge for approval for additional mammograms, ultrasounds, and breast biopsies.

Conclusions: Providing underserved uninsured women with screening mammogram services leads to early detection of breast cancer, successful treatment, and reduction in mortality in communities where services and resources are limited.

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