CHARLOTTE – A new mobile mammography unit will offer women in Mecklenburg and Gaston counties access to early screening for breast cancer and could increase the number of women who get their annual screening.
Charlotte Radiology’s mobile breast center hit the road Monday, Jan. 24, and will bring early breast cancer detection to locations in and around Charlotte. And Charlotte Radiology officials say it’s the first and only mobile mammography center dedicated to the four counties it serves.
The mobile center is a 38-foot long, state-of-the-art breast-screening center on wheels. The vehicle is staffed by two mammography certified technologists and includes a registration and waiting area, two private dressing rooms and an exam room for completing the mammogram.
The Charlotte Radiology mobile unit can perform a digital exam, which improves exam quality, reduces radiation and shortens exam times.
“Digital has been proven, especially in the younger women to be much better. It’s kind of like digital cameras compared to film,” said Dr. Christina Chaconas, a breast-imaging radiologist. “It’s the same amount of radiation and the same compression.”
A board-certified physician trained in breast imaging will interpret each exam. Most appointments take less than 30 minutes.
Only 68% of women 40 and older have had a mammogram in the past two years, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Charlotte Radiology hopes to improve that number.
“We are going to go out to some of the places where they don’t perform digital mammography,” Chaconas said. “This also is going to make it more convenient for working women.”
With the mobile center, Charlotte Radiology will be able to partner with local health departments and organizations to improve access to breast screening for the uninsured and underinsured. The ultimate goal is to partner with area businesses that will let Charlotte Radiology park the clinic outside.
“Basically we are going to make it almost impossible to avoid having a mammogram,” Chaconas said.
Mecklenburg County has a reported breast cancer rate of more than 120 cases per 100,000 people, according to the National Cancer Institute – higher than the national average.
According to the American Cancer Society, women between 40 and 80 should get mammograms annually.
Chaconas also said women whose mother or sister was diagnosed with pre-menopausal breast cancer should begin breast exams at the age that is ten years before their loved ones were diagnosed.
“If that mom was 35 when she was diagnosed, then her daughter should start at 25,” Chaconas said.
To learn more about the mobile breast center or to schedule a visit for your business or organization, please visit www.charlotteradiology.com/mobilebc.
To schedule a screening mammography exam, call Charlotte Radiology at 704-367-2232 or toll free at 877-362-2232. A physician referral is not necessary for a screening mammogram, but patients will need to provide their physician’s name to forward exam results.