Mobile mammography unit

With a $1.5-million grant awarded through University of Florida President Ben Sasse’s strategic funding initiative and matching funds from the UF Health Cancer Center, the center will launch an initiative called Expanding Access to Breast Cancer Screening in North Central Florida. A mobile mammography unit will be outfitted with leading-edge technology to bring services directly to the community. The unit will be the first of its kind in North Central Florida – a region larger than Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut combined.

A rendering of the mobile unit. Courtesy of Tesco.

Breast cancer is among the most prevalent cancers in North Central Florida, with rural communities having higher rates of advanced stages of the disease (cancers that are the hardest to treat), as well as higher mortality. These rural communities also have high poverty rates, which often lead to significant barriers for those trying to access preventive health care.

Mobile mammography units are powerful tools that help detect cancer in its early stages so that treatment can begin as quickly as possible (before the disease spreads). These units are cost-effective, reducing the need for physical infrastructure and easing the burden on health systems. And studies have shown that mobile mammography units are effective for reaching underserved communities.

A rendering of the mobile unit’s interior. Courtesy of Tesco.

The mobile unit will also be equipped to provide screening for other diseases, including cervical and colorectal cancers. To increase the unit’s impact and ensure continuity of care, highly trained community health workers will help patients access primary care services and connect with UF research studies. The team also will help uninsured community members apply for vouchers from the Florida Department of Health to cover mammography costs.

The mobile unit is expected to begin operating this fall.

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