Henry Ford Health Increases Breast Cancer Screenings Among Underserved Populations
Henry Ford participated in the Return-to-Screening Study led by American College of Surgeons and American Cancer Society
DETROIT (Aug. 18, 2022) – The breast cancer team at Henry Ford Health increased breast cancer screenings 17 percent among African American women and 35 percent among Hispanic women in 2021 through Henry Ford’s participation in the Return to Screening study. It was an effort led by the American College of Surgeons in collaboration with the American Cancer Society, aimed at encouraging patients to resume their appropriate routine cancer screenings and follow-up care, which declined significantly following the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020.
The Return to Screening study enrolled 748 accredited cancer programs in the United States. Each of the participating sites was encouraged to use evidence-based interventions known to be effective in raising screening rates, such as contacting patients to schedule screenings, sending reminders about appointments and expanding clinic and screening hours. At Henry Ford, efforts were focused on breast cancer screenings among African American and Hispanic women between the ages of 40 and 75.
“African American and Hispanic women between the ages of 40 and 75 have generally had lower mammography rates than other groups, even before the pandemic started,” said Jessica Bensenhaver, M.D., Director of the Breast Cancer Program at Henry Ford Health. “Getting the appropriate recommended routine cancer screenings is an important part of protecting your health. If screenings are missed, it can lead to cancer being detected at a later stage, which may be more challenging to treat.”
As part of this initiative, Henry Ford hosted virtual focus groups with community members to help identify the barriers preventing people from getting their routine breast cancer screenings.
“We initially expected logistical issues, such as the lack of transportation or childcare, to be common reasons for the decline in cancer screenings,” said Donna Long, R.N., Manager of Screening and Tumor Boards at Henry Ford Health Cancer. “What we saw more commonly than those responses was that many women were not aware they needed to be getting cancer screenings, as well as fear about what the tests might show.”
To help promote education about screening, nurses provided educational presentations to local congregations in Southeast Michigan. The presentations described what to expect during a mammogram, addressed common fears and myths about cancer screening, and provided information on financial and transportation resources for those in need. Additionally, bookmarks were distributed to community groups and clinics, which provided education on breast cancer risk factors, why screening matters, when it is needed, and breast cancer warning signs. Henry Ford and the American Cancer Society also hosted specific “Make Time for a Mammogram” days throughout 2021 to make it easy for women ages 40 and older to plan for and schedule a mammogram.
To continue helping women get back on track with their mammograms, Henry Ford is again offering a “Make Time for a Mammogram” day on August 27 with appointments available at Henry Ford Cancer - Detroit.