Bankers Hill Clinic Offers Free Mammograms During Women’s Health Fair

Held at the San Diego American Indian Health Center in Bankers Hill, the health fair allows women over 40 to get free breast cancer screening and connect with other resources.

The clinic will host a free mammography community event on Tuesday, September 12, from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm at 2630 First Avenue. The event is in partnership with Every Woman Counts, a state program that aims to close health disparities by providing free breast cancer screenings and screenings. Cervical cancer screening for underserved, low-income populations throughout California.

To register for free breast cancer screenings during the health fair, call (619) 234-2158.

The event is open to all women over the age of 40, regardless of whether they have health insurance that covers the cost of mammography.

Kevin LaChapelle, CEO of the Indian Health Center, said that as the pandemic strained health care systems and people were missing routine medical appointments because of COVID-19, many of women said they were late getting breast cancer screenings.

A Tulane University study published in January found that the first wave of the pandemic almost completely halted mammography, with a full recovery in screening rates only by mid-2021.

But that’s not the only reason women sometimes skip routine mammograms.

“Because of the pandemic, for some reason more and more people just say, ‘Yeah, maybe next year,’ but I’ve also learned that a lot of patients actually don’t feel the discomfort of getting a mammogram. I don’t like it,” LaChapelle said.

During the event, staff survey patients to find ways to make mammography more comfortable. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises against having a mammogram before or during your period, which can cause your breasts to soften or swell.

The American Cancer Society reports that breast cancer is the most common cancer in American women, accounting for approximately 30% of cancer diagnoses. Breast cancer has a 99 percent survival rate if diagnosed and treated early, before it spreads beyond the lymph nodes and breast.

The CDC says that for many women, a mammogram or chest x-ray is the best way to detect breast cancer early, and regular screening can reduce the risk of dying from breast cancer. Most health insurance plans cover annual or biennial mammograms at no out-of-pocket cost for women over the age of 40.

LaChapelle said it’s important for community members to encourage women in their immediate vicinity to schedule breast cancer screenings.

“People should actually have a conversation and say, ‘I love you and you are important to our family and our group of friends in the world and we love you.’ We encourage you to do so, because we want you to be healthy and we want you to be by our side, ‘ ” he said.

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