Hunters Point women publicly urged to get mammograms

June 18, 2010 7:52:16 PM PDT
Women in the Bayview-Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco are getting a very public reminder to get a mammogram. Billboards along the T-Third Street light rail line are encouraging all women, but especially African-American women, to get screened for breast cancer.

In this community, most women are African-American. Health care providers say it is still a challenge to convince them to get screened.

"It's not a priority. If I have to pay the PG&E, if I have to pay my rent, buy some groceries, I'm not coming to get a mammogram. That gets dropped off the list. So there was a disconnect on the priority of their survival," says Veronica Shepard from the Southeast Health Center.

The billboards were designed by San Francisco high school students. One billboard, created by Yougyu Xie, reads, "The cure is here and so are we."

"Everyone deserves to know there are resources out there that would help anyone at all," says Xie.

Jose Garcia's artwork displays a sad statistic: more than 40,000 women died last year in the U.S. alone due to breast cancer.

"It's better to detect it earlier and help them out when you can, so they won't suffer," says Garcia.

Several studies have shown that when it comes to breast cancer, African-American women do worse than white women, and black women tend to develop cancer at an earlier age.

A University of Miami study published in the Journal Of American College Of Surgery found that the likelihood of finding breast cancer in black women at age 33 is the same as in finding it in white women at age 40.

"There definitely are differences in cancer by ethnicity and the best way for a woman to prevent breast cancer is to get a mammogram," says Mitch Katz from the San Francisco Health Department.

Assemblyman Tom Ammiano, D-San Francisco, convinced AT&T to fund the $20,000 grant to put up the billboards.

The billboards display information on how and where to get a mammogram for free.


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