Hoping to lower breast-cancer death rates by detecting the disease early, the University of Maryland Medical Center will crisscross the state in a new, $260,000 specially equipped mammography van, bringing low-cost screening mammograms to women at their workplaces and in their communities.
"Not enough women avail themselves of the mammogram," said Dr. Joseph Aisner, director of the University of Maryland Cancer Center and chairman of the breast cancer committee of the Maryland Cancer Consortium.
"Basically, we're taking it to them so they can and will."
"Breast cancer affects 1 in 9 women," Dr. Aisner said. "But the earlier we diagnose and treat it, the better chance there is to save a woman's life."
Sandee Kolodny, the hospital's coordinator of outreach services, said women who use the van's services will be instructed by a registered nurse about overall health, breast health, cervical cancer screening, birth control, osteoperosis, dieting and cholesterol.
They also will get a breast examination and a screening mammogram.
The mammogram charge will be about $45, but women who do not have insurance and are poor will pay nothing, Ms. Kolodny said.
"We develop the film on board the van and a report is sent to the women's physician or to the University of Maryland Breast Evaluation Program, which provides a range of follow-up treatment," she said.
National guidelines recommend that women get a baseline mammogram between ages 35 and 39. After 40, they should have a mammogram every one to two years, and after 50, once a year.
"Women historically have not participated, mainly due to the inconvenience, cost and lack of education on the subject," said Ms. Kolodny, a registered nurse.
The American Cancer Society, Maryland Division, is co-sponsoring the mammography visits and advises where the van should go to reach communities that have the highest death rates from breast cancer, Ms. Kolodny said.
"We'll go anywhere you want us," Ms. Kolodny said. "Just show us you're interested. We'll be there."
Maryland General Hospital and LaSalle Radiology, a group of radiologists who practice at Greater Baltimore Medical Center, already have mammography vans that travel around the state.
Both of those programs also charge for the service,
Where to call
To find where the University of Maryland mammography van will be visiting or to get the van to come to your location, call:
Public locations: American Cancer Society, Maryland Division, 749-1624.
Business locations: University of Maryland Cancer Center, (800) 787-0506.