Cancer Committee Community Report

Implementation of health care reform through the Affordable Care Act has increased access to breast cancer screening services for many low-income, underserved women through expanded insurance coverage and eliminating cost sharing. But even with adequate health insurance, according to Center of Disease Control and Prevention, many women will still face substantial barriers to obtaining breast cancer screening such as geographic isolation, limited health literacy or self-efficacy, lack of provider recommendation, inconvenient times to access services, and language barriers. Pertaining to our local community and breast cancer there has been a significant increase in Doctors Medical Center’s annual breast cancer diagnosis rates from 126 in 2010 to 180 in 2014, with an increase in breast cancer under the age of 45 from 10% in 2010 to 12% in 2014.

Breast cancer is the most common cancer and the second leading cause of cancer death among women in the United States. At Doctors Medical Center, there are roughly 600 new cancer diagnoses each year. Breast cancer is the top cancer seen with newly diagnosis patients in 2015. DMC is dedicated to not only planning and implementing activities to increase breast cancer screening rates and education among all women of appropriate screening age, but also dedicated to the education of prevention and screening programs of women prior to screening age to increase breast cancer awareness.

This year the Cancer Program at DMC has developed a breast cancer prevention program that includes information regarding what breast cancer is, what causes breast cancer, risk factors, tests and screenings to find breast cancer early, and signs and symptoms. Educational tools, such as breast models, are provided for participants to feel what they would be looking for in their own breast during self-examinations. DMC collaborated with Modesto Radiology during this prevention program which has enabled program participates to gain a deeper knowledge of screening programs and a further understanding of the benefits of digital breast tomosynthesis, equipment our community radiology center has purchased that will increase screening options for breast cancer. During the last prevention program held at a local community center, Dr. Kirsten Gaarder, of Modesto Radiology, presented a fuller understanding of breast cancer screening and the importance of screening came full circle with the presentation from a breast cancer survivor sharing her experience with the signs and symptoms she experienced, mammography screening, diagnosis process, chemotherapy, and life after cancer.

The effectiveness of this community-based breast cancer prevention program was determined by assessing post-education breast cancer knowledge. Baseline and post education knowledge was assessed via self-evaluation. Effectiveness of education interventions was determined by a follow-up survey following the prevention program to assess if participants changed their lifestyle habits through the prevention measures provided through the prevention program. 93% of program participants stated they have gained more knowledge on breast cancer prevention and screenings. 64% women stated they are more likely to schedule a Breast Cancer screening based on the information and education presented. Since the prevention program, 25% of the women stated they have increased their exercise regimen and 50% stated that since the prevention program they have improved their diet by reducing red and/or processed meats and increased their diet in fruits and vegetables. 50% of the women stated they have reconsidered and/or stopped the use of hormonal therapies and 50% have made efforts to decrease or limit their alcohol consumption.

Doctors Medical Center continues to aim to increase the individual’s knowledge and influence attitudes and beliefs regarding the need for breast cancer screening, the intention to be screened, the risks and benefits of screening, and access to affordable and convenient breast cancer screening, diagnosis, and treatment. In addition to the prevention program a breast cancer screening will be offered to the local community.