By Kathy Engle, Monique Binkley Smith & Clayton Warren, Vitals contributors
You’ve probably heard the numbers. According to the American Cancer Society, a woman has a 1 in 8 chance of being diagnosed with breast cancer in their lifetime and regular screening increases the detection and prevention of the disease as well as the survival rates.
So, what can be done? Medical experts say getting cancer screenings at recommended intervals increases the chances of recognizing abnormal cell division or tumor growth early, which improves a patient’s options for care.
But the pandemic caused many women to delay regular screenings and continued delays may have serious repercussions for some people.
“We estimate that of every 200 mammograms, one patient’s is suspicious for breast cancer and needs further attention,” says William Isenberg, M.D., chief quality and safety officer for Sutter Health. “Through June, 2020, 4,000 – 5,000 people have postponed mammograms, which means approximately 20-25 cancers may have gone undiagnosed. A year later, we know there is still catching up to do.”
To support breast cancer screening and services at local hospitals and clinics –including hospitals and clinics in Sutter’s integrated network of care in the Bay Area—the Safeway Foundation Cancer Research and Treatment campaign at Safeway stores across Northern California, Nevada and Hawaii, collected donations from grocery shoppers and employees in April.
Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center, Mills-Peninsula Medical Center, Palo Alto Medical Foundation – Santa Cruz, Sutter Lakeside Hospital and Sutter Pacific Medical Foundation in Santa Rosa, each received grants from the campaign totaling $122,500. In total, 3,200 patients will benefit from local services each year as a result of the Safeway Foundation awards.
The donations will go directly to support these hospital and clinic’s breast cancer programs and services to enhance screening, treatment and navigation for patients, including:
- Increased screening for underserved women in San Mateo and Santa Cruz counties.
- $200 gift cards for 100 newly-diagnosed income-eligible breast cancer patients in the East Bay issued by the Carol Ann Read Breast Health Center at Alta Bates Summit to ensure these patients are able to access healthy food at the beginning of treatment.
- And in Sonoma County, cancer support services through the Institute for Health & Healing in Santa Rosa will continue to provide holistic breast cancer services for patients.