Since 2008, New York City-based non-profit ProjectRenewal has deployed mobile vans that have provided thousands of mammograms, clinical breast exams and care coordination to communities in need — regardless of their financial situation — for women who are homeless, low-income or uninsured.
On Oct. 21, ProjectRenewal will have a mobile van ready to screen any woman in the Bronx at the Community Health Network Westchester from 9 a.m. to noon.
The Oct. 21 event comes at a crucial time, as experts and public health officials are encouraging more women to get screened for breast cancer after a drop-off in screenings during the pandemic. In June 2021, the CDC reported that the total number of breast cancer screenings declined by 87% during April 2020, compared with previous 5-year averages for that same month.
In New York City, more than 1,000 women die from breast cancer each year, and during the pandemic, screenings delayed diagnoses and widened disparities among those who were already experiencing health inequities, according to the CDC.
In recent years, with data dating back to 2016, the Highbridge and Morrisania sections of the Bronx had some of the highest rates of death from breast cancer in NYC, along with East Harlem and the Rockaways. Breast cancer mortality rates overall vary by NYC neighborhood, from under 15.9 to 32.2 deaths per 100,000 female population in the city.
The ScanVan has conducted screenings in more than 200 locations throughout the five boroughs.
Studies have shown that access to screenings are linked to a person’s socioeconomic status, as well as the prevalence of breast cancer cases disproportionately affecting women of color.
According to ProjectRenewal, the ScanVan initiative is an effort to help more than 60% of uninsured women who don’t have a regular doctor, and therefore forgo their annual mammogram because of high costs and lack of access to care.
In a full calendar year, ScanVan has screened as many as 4,479 low-income women for breast cancer regardless of insurance or legal status. They were able to detect 12 cases among those screenings.
According to NYC health data, Black women had the highest mortality due to breast cancer across all years as compared to other racial and ethnic groups. White women had the largest decline in mortality rate over that time span.
Between 2002 and 2015, the mortality rate among White women decreased by 27.8% (from 28.1 to 20.3) as compared to a smaller decrease of 18.3% (from 31 to 25.3) among Black women.
Reach Robbie Sequeira at firstname.lastname@example.org or (718) 260-4599. For more coverage, follow us on Twitter @bronxtimes and Facebook @bronxtimes.