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DHSS Press Release

Rita Landgraf, Secretary
Carl Kanefsky, Communications Director
(302) 540-4979, Pager

Date: October 5, 2010


The Women's Mobile Health Screening van, newly retrofitted with state-of-the-art digital mammography equipment, was re-dedicated Oct. 4 at Legislative Hall in Dover. State Senator Nancy Cook and the Delaware General Assembly sponsored the upgrade.

The Delaware Breast Cancer Coalition (DBCC) manages and operates the van, which provides free or reduced cost mammograms to eligible uninsured or underinsured women. The Delaware Division of Public Health's Screening for Life program contracts DBCC's Women's Mobile Health Screening, LLC to operate and maintain the van. Between July 2007 and June 2008, the van screened 1,261 Delaware women and referred 86 with irregular mammograms to providers for follow-up.

"We are thrilled to provide this enhanced cancer technology to Delaware women," said Vicky Cooke, DBCC executive director. Digital technology (Hologic Lorad Selenia) replaced x-ray film equipment on the 2002 Airstream Commercial medical vehicle. Digital technology provides greater image resolution, while allowing health providers to access mammograms from any workstation. Digital records are also easier to store.

Digital mammography equipment uses the same ionizing radiation as analog (films), but at a lower dose, according to DPH's Office of Radiation Control, which inspects the equipment and certifies radiation technologists. Twenty-nine of Delaware's 30 mammography sites use digital equipment. Beebe Medical Imaging performs the van's mammograms, stores the images on a laptop, and prints and reads them. When the van returns from its travels, digital mammograms are downloaded to a Picture Archiving and Communication (PAC) system, allowing providers to retrieve them at remote workstations.

Delaware has the fifth highest breast cancer screening rates in the nation. In 2008, 82.3 percent of Delaware women age 40 and older reported that they had a mammogram in the past two years. "These higher screening rates are partially responsible for the state's declining breast cancer incidence and mortality rates," said Dr. Karyl Rattay, Director of the Division of Public Health. According to the Cancer Incidence and Mortality in Delaware, 2002-2006 report, between the periods 1992-1996 and 2002-2006, Delaware's female breast cancer incidence rate decreased 10 percent while the U.S. rate decreased by six percent. Overall, the 2002-2006 female breast cancer incidence rate for Delaware (122.6 per 100,000) was not significantly different from the U.S. rate (123.8 per 100,000).

Fewer women are dying of breast cancer. Between the periods 1992-1996 and 2002-2006, Delaware's female breast cancer mortality rate decreased 30.1 percent, while the U.S. rate fell 20.5 percent. If this trend continues, the 2002-2006 Delaware breast cancer mortality rate (23.5 per 100,000) will become significantly lower than the U.S. rate (24.5 per 100,000).

The Delaware Cancer Consortium recommends annual clinical breast exams for all women, with mammograms by age 40, and annual mammograms and clinical breast exams afterwards. Women at greater risk for breast cancer may need earlier and more frequent screenings, and should discuss those options with their doctors.

For more information about arranging a screening mammogram, call DBCC at 1-888-672-9647 weekdays between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. Van staff works some Saturdays and early evenings. Women should have a mammography prescription from their doctor and if possible, a copy of their previous mammogram films for comparison. Van staff will help those women without a prescription or a primary care provider.

Delaware Health and Social Services is committed to improving the quality of the lives of Delaware's citizens by promoting health and well-being, fostering self-sufficiency, and protecting vulnerable populations.