University Hospital’s oncologists, mammogram technicians and staff members will work after hours from 6 p.m. - midnight Oct. 4, and 7 a.m. - noon Oct. 5 to service patients at a special breast cancer screening “mammothon.”
“The mammothon is hosted by the Ellis Fischel Cancer Center at University Hospital and will offer women from the community an opportunity to come into the center and receive mammograms and breast exams at a time that is most convenient for them,” hospital spokesman Derek Thompson said.
The American Cancer Society found that one in eight women in the U.S. is diagnosed with breast cancer in her lifetime.
The society recommends that women older than 40 receive an annual mammogram.
Mammography is the best technique for catching breast cancer early and when it is most treatable, said Paul Dale, chief of the surgical oncology division at MU, in a news release. New mammography technology allows doctors to catch the cancer earlier than ever before.
Debra Deeken, the manager of Ellis Fischel breast health cancer, said that early detection of breast cancer is critical to the treatment of the disease.
“We could potentially save a life by spotting the disease in its early stages rather than a stage four,” Deeken said. “The primary goal of this mammothon is to screen women who may not otherwise have time to be examined.”
To receive a mammogram, patients must be age 40 or older, or have a physician’s recommendation for a breast exam.
Patients who qualify must schedule an appointment with the center and sign in upon arrival.
If a patient has medical insurance, the provider might cover the cost of the mammogram. The center can also provide grant funding to patients who are uninsured or underinsured to make screening available to a broader range of patients.
As part of the breast cancer awareness month, the mammothon will also include a breast health education activity.
Patients will be provided with door prizes and refreshments as they walk into the center and will participate in trivia games aimed at educating attendees about breast cancer.
“We wanted to create a comfortable atmosphere, (akin) to relaxing at a spa to our patients,” said Kristen Fritschie, the center’s guest services coordinator.
The center raised awareness for the mammothon using its Facebook and Twitter accounts, promoting the event on its website, posting fliers at health fairs and conferences and sending out a news release.
Columbia is not the first city to have a mammothon to screen for breast cancer.
“We first got the idea when one of our nurses saw a similar event being hosted in Kansas City,” Deeken said. “We then borrowed the concept and developed it for Columbia.”
The first mammothon in Columbia was held in October 2012 and saw an attendance of approximately 40 women.
Because of its initial success, and three separate requests from patients, the center decided to make the event biannual and hosted another successful mammothon in June, Deeken said.
The center is anticipating a similar number of patients to register for examinations for this October’s mammothon.