The county’s largest health system, Montefiore, urges all to get screened.
The hospital held its 9th Annual Edward S. Greenwald M.D. Breast and Cervical Cancer Screening on Saturday, October 8 in Morris Park. Screenings were free.
Dr. Della Makower, assistant professor of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine and a Montefiore oncologist focusing on breast cancer, said the event was held on a Saturday because many people are off from work on Saturdays, removing one of the barriers women sometimes have to getting screened.
To borough barriers include having access to care and lacking health insurance, said Makower.
“In the Bronx itself, little over 70 percent of women between the ages of 50 and 74 have had a screening in the last two years, and that is a lower number than we would like to see,” said Makower.
In addition to practical concerns, women’s own concerns or misconceptions can stand in the way of their willingness to get screened, she said.
“Sometimes women…don’t want to know or that maybe think the mammogram is painful or uncomfortable,” she said, adding that regular cancer screenings are a very important part of healthcare.
Breast cancer, if caught early, is highly curable, said Makower.
Certain populations may be more vulnerable to cancer, she also indicated.
In terms of NYC Department of Health statistics, African-American women have a higher mortality rate, she said.
Part of the reason has to do with being diagnosed later, but African-American women are especially risk because they are more prone to ‘triple-negative’ breast cancer, which is more aggressive, said Makower.
Montefiore itself has a number of strengths when it comes to being a health care choice for the treatment of breast cancer, the doctor said.
Makower believes those strengths include capable physicians and a very strong nurse-based patient navigation system that helps guide breast cancer patients from the early diagnostic phase through their treatment.
These navigators can help patients through whatever the course of treatment: chemotherapy, radiation, hormonal therapy or surgery, for example.
The Bronx Oncology Living Daily Program is also available at the Montefiore Einstein Center For Cancer Care. Known as B.O.L.D., the program offers free support, sound body/mind workshops and education, she said.
B.O.L.D. is open to all and funded from proceeds from the Entertainment Industry’s Revlon Run/Walk, according to the hospital.
Montefiore Einstein Center For Cancer Care also takes part in numerous clinical trials that bring treatments to patients if they wish to participate, said Makower.
The clinical trials can provide “cutting edge care,” she said, but they are 100 percent voluntary.
“We have been working in this community for a very long time, so we have roots in this community,” said Makower.
She encourages all women to get screened regularly and to not be apprehensive.
“I would say don’t be afraid,” the doctor said. “Knowledge is power, and if it turns out that something shows up on your screening, catching it early is the best thing you can do for yourself.”