The clinic provides breast cancer screenings to residents in an underserved community
The American Breast Cancer Foundation is helping Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso continue to meet the needs of underserved residents with a $7,500 grant for breast cancer screenings at the Foster School of Medicine’s Medical Student Run Clinic.
The MSRC provides diagnostic, preventive and educational care to residents in Sparks, Texas, just outside El Paso city limits. Communities like Sparks lack basic infrastructure due to socioeconomic factors, and residents often go without basic public transportation, adequate health care, and in some cases, electricity and running water.
“Receiving a grant like this opens up access to a population that’s underserved,” said Maureen Francis, M.D., FACP, assistant dean for medical education at the Foster School of Medicine and a medical director of the Medical Student Run Clinic. “We don’t ever want to find anyone with breast cancer, but we do want to help them get treatment if they have it and save lives with early detection.”
According to the American Cancer Society, about 1 in 8 women will develop breast cancer, and about 1 in 36 women will die from breast cancer. In El Paso County, 105.2 of every 100,000 women were diagnosed with breast cancer from 2014 to 2018, according to the National Cancer Institute.
Since 1990, breast cancer death rates have declined progressively due to advancements in detection and treatments. But in the U.S., women who live in poverty and those who live in rural areas are at increased risk of late-stage diagnosis.
With help from Desert Imaging’s state-of-the-art Mammos on the Move mobile mammography bus, students at the MSRC are decreasing the number of women diagnosed with late-stage breast cancer, the leading cause of cancer death among women in the U.S., while bridging the gap between a basic service and transportation barriers.
“The MSRC provides in-person experiences for our students,” Dr. Francis said. “They’re helping these patients overcome barriers, something that’s a very important part of their education.”
With the American Breast Cancer Foundation grant, approximately 50 women will receive bilingual breast health education and mammograms, as well as follow-up diagnostic testing, including diagnostic mammograms and ultrasounds.
“We’re committed to continuing this vital health care service for the early detection of breast cancer,” said Nohemi Lopez Valdez, a student in the Foster School of Medicine and a member of the student leadership team at the MSRC. “This service effort is not only needed, but it’s fundamental to reducing persistent health disparities present in our Borderland community.”
About Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
TTUHSC El Paso is the only health sciences center on the U.S.-Mexico border and serves 108 counties in West Texas that have been historically underserved. It is designated as a Title V Hispanic-Serving Institution, preparing the next generation of health care heroes, 48% of whom identify as Hispanic and are often first-generation college students.
Note: Photo taken prior to the COVID-19 pandemic.