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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 30, 2004
Contact: Karen Warmkessel kwarmkessel@umm.edu 410-328-8919
Ellen Beth Levitt eblevitt@umm.edu 410-328-8919

FREE BREAST CANCER SCREENING BENEFITS LOW-INCOME, UNINSURED BALTIMORE CITY RESIDENTS

Baltimore City Cancer Program aims to reduce cancer deaths through early detection, treatment

The Baltimore City Cancer Program at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center is offering free clinical breast exams and mammograms to low-income, uninsured Baltimore City residents at three UniversityCare family health centers. October is breast cancer awareness month, and program officials urge eligible women to take advantage of the free screening.

“Our goal is to save lives through early detection, diagnosis and treatment. If breast cancer is discovered early, there is a very good chance that it can be treated effectively,” says Jimmie J. Drummond, Jr., M.D., M.P.H., director of the Baltimore City Cancer Program at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center who is also on the faculty of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

Dr. Drummond says that screening is particularly important for African-Americans who may not have insurance and can’t afford to see a doctor on a regular basis. He notes that while the onset of breast cancer is less frequent among African-American women, the death rate is higher. “One reason for that may be a lack of access to screening, leading to more advanced disease at the time of diagnosis,” Dr. Drummond says.

The Baltimore City Cancer Program at the University of Maryland Greenebaum Cancer Center is funded through the Maryland Cigarette Restitution Fund Program with monies from the 1999 legal settlement with large tobacco companies. The Baltimore City Cancer Program is working with the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the Johns Hopkins Kimmel Cancer Center to promote early treatment and detection of cancer in the city, targeting breast, cervical and prostate cancer.

Since the Baltimore City Cancer Program started in 2001, more than 8,100 low-income, uninsured city residents have been screened for breast, cervical and oral cancers at the University of Maryland’s UniversityCare centers. Thirty-one people have been diagnosed with cancer; 26 of them had breast cancer. Five of these women have been diagnosed since July 1. The program also focuses on education and community outreach, seeking to prevent cancer deaths and to remove racial and ethnic disparities in diagnosis and treatment.

Free screenings are available throughout the year, Monday through Friday, from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. at UniversityCare at Edmondson Village, 4538 Edmondson Ave.; UniversityCare at Howard Park, 4510 Liberty Heights Ave., and UniversityCare at the Waxter Center, 1000 Cathedral St.

Dr. Drummond says that women between the age of 40 and 50 should have a breast exam and mammogram every one to two years, but women over 50 should have the exams every year. All women should also conduct monthly self-exams.

To make an appointment for a free screening, city residents can call 410-328-HOPE (4673).

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