Starting Thursday, a big pink van you will see on Northern Virginia roads will provide a much-needed but often overlooked health service: 3D mammograms.
Woodbridge-based Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center said the van that was out of service in 2021 and 2022 goes back into operation and will provide breast cancer screenings in underserved communities.
The van houses the same state-of-the-art technology patients receive in Sentara facilities, according to a news release. 3D mammograms have become the standard for breast cancer screenings because they are able to find smaller tumors at earlier stages.
“By coming into the community or directly to a workplace, the mobile mammography van will bring screening services to those who might not otherwise get this necessary care,” said Melissa Botelho, manager of radiology at Sentara Northern Virginia Medical Center, in a release.
In the past, the van has provided mammograms at Microsoft, Raytheon, and GEICO.
Its first trip will be to Glen Allen, 50 miles south of Northern Virginia. But most of its screenings are in Northern Virginia, said Jon Radulovic, spokesman for Sentara.
“Anyone is welcome to take advantage of the van, if they happen to be where the van is on that day,” says Radulovic, in an email.
“You just never know who you’re going to reach whenever you go out into the community,” said coordinator Tracie Mayhew, who drives the Sentara mobile mammography van, in the release. “We had one patient who had a mammogram with us that lead to the discovery of her breast cancer. She was able to get a mastectomy before the cancer advanced and she credits her screening with saving her life.”
Radulovic said Sentara is working on scheduling new locations for the rest of the year. Organizations that may be interested can contact [email protected] or call 703-523-1997.
Sentara provides the mammograms to anyone. Health insurance information is taken over the phone and on site. Those who are uninsured or underinsured may qualify for financial assistance. Having no insurance will not be a barrier to getting a mammogram, Sentara said.
The van can provide up to 20 mammography appointments every weekday. To schedule a visit in Northern Virginia, call 703-523-1560.
Feature image courtesy Sentara
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