The St. Joseph’s Mobile Mammography Unit visited Stockton on Friday, January 3rd, as part of a program to provide digital screening mammography services to women living in San Joaquin County.
“Having an annual mammogram helps in teaching women the importance of the exam,” said Marivel Costa, Resource Coordinator of the Mobile Mammography Program.
“It is troubling to see that not all Americans are getting the recommended cancer screenings and that disparities continue to persist for certain populations,” said Sallyann Coleman King, officer in the CDC’s Division of Cancer Prevention and Control. “Screening can find breast and cervical cancers at an early stage when treatment is more effective,”
This full-service mammography clinic on wheels is the first mobile unit of its kind in Northern California, targeting women facing financial barriers, living in hard-to-reach outlying areas, and lacking access to mammography services.
“Approximately 70% of our patients are Latinas” says Costa.
The going rate for a screening mammogram is between $200 – $300 dollars, explains Costa. “Our program offers a ‘low-cost’ rate of $80 for the screening mammogram.
“For the majority of our patients, there is no direct cost. The services are covered by the patient’s insurance, or through one of the various special funding programs.”
Although women ages 50-74 years should be screened for breast cancer every two years, some are hesitant to get a mammogram because they are “scared of the unknown” says Costa.
According to St. Joseph’s Medical Center more than 800,000 women over the age of 40 reside within the geographic area designated to receive MMU visits, and it is estimated that more than 81,000 have never had a mammogram.
The Mobile Mammography Unit plans to visit community clinics and migrant worker centers in other counties of the Central Valley.