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'Catch things at an early stage' | Free breast cancer screenings offered in Oak Park

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is one of the most common cancer in women in the U.S. Risk varies by race and ethnicity

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Andrea Gant lives in Sacramento and is putting her health first. She, along with dozens of other people, got a free mammogram at the Oak Park Community Health Center Friday.

"If you know what you're up against, then you know what to do to fight it," said Gant. "I'm hoping it test negative and everything comes back normal and I can go on with life. But you want to be able to catch things at an early stage."

UC Davis Comprehensive Cancer Center partnered with Bayer to offer the breast cancer screenings using a "mammovan" — a mobile van equipped with tools needed for mammograms.

"We're here to talk about the importance of getting screened and coming every year, starting at age 40," said Dr. Elizabeth Morris, Chair of Radiology at UC Davis Health. "The message is to really get access to mammogram screenings and additional tests that you might need if you are dense."

The purpose of the event included raising awareness about breast cancer and prevention, identifying and educating patients on what it means to have dense breasts, and making screenings more accessible for women in marginalized communities.

Andrea says she gets routine breasts screenings, especially because of her family health history.

"Three out of four of my grandparents had cancer," said Gant. "Maybe my mom is too scared to find out, but I'd rather know the battle."

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According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, breast cancer is one of the most common cancer in women in the U.S. The risk varies by race and ethnicity. 

"Underrepresented minorities, especially African American and Hispanic women, develop breast cancer a lot earlier than predominantly white women," said Morris.

The CDC says Black women die from breast cancer at a higher rate than all other women. Social, economic and behavioral factors account for the disparities, like lack of health insurance, access to health care facilities and awareness.

"Black women are much less likely to get mammograms," said Dr. Janine Bera, Chief Medical Officer with WellSpace Health. "People should think about being well. Being well means getting your cancer screenings. I would also add screenings for diabetes, high blood pressure, cervical cancer screenings, colon cancer screenings, and all of the things that we know, that if we find it early, and we get you treated, you will have a longer and better life."

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