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Yale’s New Mammography Van Brings Care Directly to Communities

October 28, 2020
by Jane E. Dee

A new screening 3-D Mammography and Breast Ultrasound Van will bring Yale Radiology’s world-class breast imaging expertise to women in the local community.

The van will provide the highest quality 3-D breast imaging to women throughout Connecticut, including women in underserved neighborhoods who might not be able to come to Yale New Haven Health locations for screening mammography because of their work schedules, a lack of transportation, and even language barriers. This is particularly important for catching cancers at their earliest stages, especially for women with dense breast tissue. Women with Yale providers can schedule their mammogram on a day when the van is in their neighborhood rather than having to travel for an appointment.

“Women at average risk for breast cancer should start screening when they are 40 to 50 years of age, and should have a mammogram every one to two years,” said Regina Hooley, MD, professor of Radiology & Biomedical Imaging at Yale School of Medicine and interim division chief for breast imaging.

In addition to 3-D mammography, the van will be equipped to provide supplemental screening ultrasound for women with dense breast tissue. “An Increasing recognition of limited mammographic sensitivity in women with dense breasts has led to greater use of supplemental screening ultrasound,” Hooley explained.

Breast density is determined only by a woman’s mammogram. About forty percent of women in the U.S. age 40 and over who have been screened for breast cancer have dense breasts. Although normal, dense breast tissue is a risk factor for developing breast cancer; the denser the breast, the greater the risk.

“Breast density is important for women to know,” said Hooley. “Women with dense breasts have an increased risk of breast cancer, and dense breasts also make it more difficult to see a small cancer on a mammogram.”

The Auxiliary at Yale New Haven Health is the lead donor for the new van with a pledge of $500,000. “We are excited and pleased to be a part of such an important event,” said Anne Marie Chuckrey, the Auxiliary’s president. “Our mission includes community outreach whereby we serve as individual and collective ambassadors for the Hospital to promote its vision and reputation in the community, linking the community and YNHH. We are so proud to be able to help the Hospital provide access to important health care to the community.”

This is Yale’s fourth mobile mammography van and the first van in the country equipped with both 3D mammography and screening ultrasound. The Yale New Haven Auxiliary has supported the mammography van dating back to 1987. With support from the Auxiliary, the first mobile mammography van made its launch on July 9, 1987. In 1996, the Auxiliary donated $140,000 toward a new 36' mobile unit. The new state-of-the-art van replaces a 2-D mammography van. Health care workers will be following strict protocols to keep staff and patients safe on the van, such as wearing face masks and shields, and wearing personal protective equipment.

Submitted by Angel Machon on October 28, 2020