A new traveling service brought by Northwest Health Services aims to bring convenient mammogram services to the community, making it easier and faster to receive the necessary screenings.

“We started this service because we found that there were a significant number of patients who, for whatever reason, would not or could not make it in to a traditional medical facility to get their mammograms done,” says Dr. Sid Crawley, staff radiologist with Diagnostic Imaging Centers in Kansas City, Missouri. “By offering the services at places like churches and social organizations, we could bring women who need to be screened for mammograms into the system to get their screenings done.”

The mobile mammography coach, a program of Diagnostic Imaging Centers, P.A., will be at Northwest Health Service’s Family Medicine Associations on Wednesday. The medical services are available to the public by appointment and are generally covered by insurance.

“The advantage of this is convenience and simplicity,” says Sarah Knorr, family nurse practitioner with Northwest Health Services. “You can just schedule it and get it done. It’s just a good way to offer it to people who maybe otherwise wouldn’t be getting it done.”

According to the American Cancer Society, women ages 40 to 44 should have the choice to start annual mammograms, and women age 45 to 54 should get annual checks. At age 55, women can switch to mammograms every other year, or annually if they prefer. Family history, genetics and other factors can increase the risk and widen the testing range.

“Breast cancer is still one of the leading causes of death in women, and it is widely known that it can be caught early,” Knorr says. “The earlier it’s caught, the better your outcomes are going to be.”

An estimated 12 percent of women in the United States, or 1 in 8, will develop invasive breast cancer in her lifetime. In 2017, an estimated 252,710 new cases of invasive breast cancer are expected to be diagnosed in women nationwide. Breast cancer rates in the United States have been dropping since 2000.

“Mammograms nowadays are much better than they used to be,” Knorr says. “They are digital and they aren’t as painful. They can cause mild discomfort. I do have a lot of people who are concerned about their breast size. The equipment is accustom for all breast sizes.”

Women more than 40 years of age do not need a doctor’s order for a mammogram through the mobile service. Women 35-40 years old can obtain a baseline screening, but should check with their insurance provider for coverage before the mobile screening.

Patients’ most recent screening should be 12 months or more prior to the current mammogram appointment.

“There is a prep that you should do for the mammography, just to make sure that it is accurate and that there won’t be any problems,” Knorr says. “Make sure you don’t put any deodorant on that day, or body lotions or anything that could interfere with the equipment.”

Although it is the first time for Northwest Health Services to bring the mobile mammogram coach to the community, they hope to make it a routine service, Knorr says. The mobile program through Diagnostic Imaging Centers has been available for about a year.

“We will see how it goes. We hope to have a lot of support from the community, and we will see how much interest there is,” she says. “If this is a service that a lot of people want to utilize, then we will definitely look in to have it more.”

The mobile mammogram coach will be at Northwest Health Service’s Family Medicine Associations, 2303 Village Dr., from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday, August 16. Patients should check with their insurance company for coverage and may need a doctor’s referral. To make an appointment, call 816-232-6818.

“If you wait until you have symptoms, it’s too late,” Knorr says. “You need to get it done before you may have any symptoms.”

Jena Sauber can be reached at jena.sauber@newspressnow.com. Follow her on Twitter: @SJNPSauber.