The Dana-Farber Cancer Institute Is Championing Mobile Mammograms as a Workplace Benefit

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Cancer is one of the biggest medical obstacles facing humanity today. There are organizations all over the world exclusively dedicated to solving this challenge and finding new cures and treatments.

Breast cancer is one of the most common variants of the illness (accounting for 30% of cancer diagnoses in American women) with only skin cancer being more common among the same demographic. Roughly one in every eight US women will develop invasive breast cancer during their lifetime. During 2020 it's expected that 276,480 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed as well as 48,530 new cases of non-invasive (in situ) breast cancer. Of these diagnoses, 42,170 women will not survive the illness.

This makes the need for improved screening routines and schedules incredibly crucial and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is helping champion the practice as an additional workplace benefit.

Dana-Farber Cancer Institute

Mammograms should be considered the first line of defense against this terrible illness. Making sure women have easy access to them should be a top priority for both potential sufferers of breast cancer and those seeking to find solutions to it.

According to Medical Oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and Assistant Professor at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Rachel Freedman, regular mammograms can help to avert roughly 20% of breast cancer deaths. This is because they can show early signs of mutating cells when the chances for positive clinical outcomes are at their highest.

It's recommended that average-risk women with no genetic predisposition and limited risk factors have a mammogram once each one to two years starting at the age of 45. However, while that doesn't seem to be too much of a commitment, it can be hard for women to find time in their lives to make the appointments. We live busier lives than ever before, and with work, hobbies, family commitments, and more, it can often be impossible to find a gap in one's schedule. There is also the issue of insurance, with mammography use being lowest among uninsured women. However, many insured women are also not meeting recommendations.

The result of all this is that only 50% of women over 40 report having a mammogram within the past year, and 64% report having one within the past two years. The main reasons listed for missing out are the need for transportation, child-care, and the ability to take time off work, which creates an opportunity for employers to step in and help.

Health Benefits

Some of the main elements of an employee's benefits package are those relating to health. In fact, companies with comprehensive health benefits are often the ones that can attract the best talent. Combine this with the increased focus on attracting more female employees and mammograms are beginning to find their way into health benefit packages.

To help solve the issue of women finding the time to book and attend appointments, savvy businesses are finding ways to bring the screening facilities to them at work.

"Improving access to mammography and allowing people to take the time off work to get preventative care is very important," said Dr. Freedman. "You can make it easy and bring tests to people's workplace or you can protect the time people need to take off work to get the testing. Mammograms are not typically done on nights and weekends, making it potentially very hard for working people to get testing."

Delta is one employer which has been ahead of the curve with this and has been arranging mobile mammogram trucks to visit its locations. In the time since the initiative began, Delta has reported that over 2,000 employees have used the service. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute's mammography vans are equipped with the very latest in cancer screening technology, including digital imaging which can provide better visibility and increased efficiency.

"We've certainly seen a growing demand for this service," said General Manager of Global Health and Wellbeing, Jae Kullar. "Women who are family caregivers, in particular, can find it difficult to make time to address their own healthcare needs. Mobile mammography conveniently addresses this need, and doesn't interfere with the workday, which is beneficial for both the employee and the company."

Final Thoughts

The fight against all cancer is one that the whole human race can get behind. Anything which can be done by employers to improve the chances of their people surviving this illness through early intervention should be welcomed with open arms.

You can hear Vice President and Chief Diversity Officer at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, Ildemaro Gonzalez, speak at HR Healthcare 2020, taking place in June at the Hyatt Regency Austin, TX.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.

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