Sometimes, prioritizing breast health is easier said than done. Finding your reason for getting annual screening mammograms may seem simpler than finding time for the exam in your busy schedule or overcoming access or transportation barriers to get to your appointment. That’s where the Charlotte Radiology mobile mammography program can help.
Enhancing Access to Breast Cancer Screening Services
Equipped with the same state-of-the-art technology as our 17 freestanding breast imaging centers, Charlotte Radiology’s mobile mammography unit meets women where they are: at work, community events or in their neighborhoods. In addition, we partner with Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute on a program called Project PINK to provide free screening mammograms to uninsured women in Mecklenburg, Union and surrounding counties. With mobile breast cancer screening services, we help ensure that access-related challenges don’t prevent women from receiving the benefits of essential breast health care.
“It’s so important to detect breast cancer early,” says Shannon Hill, M.D., board-certified radiologist and Section Vice Chief for Mammography at Charlotte Radiology. “When breast cancer is detected at early stages, it can be effectively treated. Screening mammograms enable us to find cancer at these early stages, before women feel a lump or have other symptoms.”
How Mobile Mammography Works
The centerpiece of the mobile mammography program is our mobile breast center. Like Charlotte Radiology’s freestanding imaging centers, the mobile breast center features high-quality 3D imaging technology and skilled mammography technologists. Additionally, the same group of board-certified radiologists who read images from our breast imaging centers also interpret mobile mammography images. These factors help ensure the same level of exceptional care for mammography patients regardless of whether their exam is on the mobile unit or at one of our conventional breast imaging center locations.
“The mobile mammography patient experience is quite similar to what patients encounter at our freestanding centers — just on a smaller scale,” Dr. Hill says. “The equipment and imaging quality are exactly the same.”
If you’re scheduled for a mobile mammogram, you’ll prepare just as you would for any other screening mammogram. You’ll enter the mobile mammography “bus” and check in before being escorted to a dressing room. After you change into an exam gown, you’ll enter the mammography room through a private door and have your scan. The technologist will explain the process and help position you for the exam so that you know what to expect and feel comfortable. All you have to do next is change back into your clothes and go about your day. The entire process takes around 15 minutes. Most patients receive their results in one to two days.
Benefits of Mobile Mammography
Annual screening mammograms are recommended for women starting at age 40 and are an important part of women’s wellness care. Screening helps detect breast cancers early, often resulting in less invasive treatment options and improved survivorship. Most insurances fully cover annual screening mammograms. Mobile mammography brings screening mammograms to women who might not otherwise be able to get them. The Charlotte Radiology mobile breast center visits businesses, community events and provider offices by appointment for planned screening days.
“We have after-hours availability and Saturday appointments at some of our freestanding breast centers, but getting a mammogram is even more convenient if the mobile breast center is parked outside your office,” Dr. Hill says. “This allows women to get a mammogram on their lunch break or during the busy workday.”
When the mobile mammography unit comes to them, it’s easier for women to make the time for a mammogram and eliminates the need to find or plan extra time for transportation to a freestanding imaging center. In 2022, the mobile breast center supported 70 corporate and community screening events as well as over 80 clinic days for patients. Thirty-eight free mobile screening events were also held in underserved communities for Project PINK.
Project PINK: Bringing Mammography Where It’s Needed Most
Charlotte Radiology is proud to partner with Atrium Health Levine Cancer Institute on Project PINK. Through this community public health program, Charlotte Radiology’s mobile mammography unit provides free breast cancer screening services to local uninsured women.
“We know screening mammography saves lives, and we don’t want the financial aspect to affect a woman’s ability to get an annual mammogram,” Dr. Hill says. “Project PINK has been very successful. We see more than 1,000 women per year through the program.”
Each year, Project PINK hosts 30 to 40 mobile mammography events in communities where the need is greatest. Seventy-five percent of women screened have never had a mammogram or are overdue for one.
“There are countless stories of how Project PINK has helped women,” Dr. Hill says. “Historically, through this program, we have found one to two breast cancers per month in women who might not have known they had cancer otherwise.”
Our Commitment to Breast Health
Charlotte Radiology’s mobile mammography program exemplifies our commitment to enhancing access to breast health services.
“We believe all women should have access to lifesaving screening mammograms,” Dr. Hill says. “Project PINK helps us eliminate some of the hurdles to that access. There’s always more work to do. The more the community can rally behind programs like Project PINK, the better it is for women in Mecklenburg, Union, and surrounding counties in terms of gaining access to lifesaving care.”
Project PINK wouldn’t be possible without community-wide support. This will be on display at Charlotte Radiology’s 12th annual Pink Pint Night to be held on the eve of Breast Cancer Awareness Month (Thursday, September 28). Join us at NoDa Brewing Company North End in Charlotte from 6 p.m.–9 p.m., where we’ll come together as a community to raise awareness, celebrate breast cancer survivors and warriors, and help raise funds for Project Pink. Enjoy a silent auction, a specially crafted PINK NoDa beer, food trucks and fun with friends and family. All proceeds from the event will support free screening mammograms for local uninsured women through Project PINK.