Flushing councilwoman to host free mammogram screening event in April

Councilmember Sandra Ung (c.) joined by Ruth Vega of the American-Italian Cancer Foundation and Andrew Wang of CAIPA to discuss details of a Mammogram Bus visit to Flushing next month. (Photo courtesy of Ung’s office)

Councilwoman Sandra Ung on Tuesday, Feb. 14, announced that a Mammogram Bus will be visiting her district office in Flushing next month to provide free breast cancer screenings for women. 

Sponsored by the American-Italian Cancer Foundation, the Mammogram Bus provides no-cost breast cancer screening in underserved communities across the five boroughs. 

The Mammogram Bus will be in the parking lot outside of Ung’s district office at 135-27 38th Ave. on Friday, March 17, from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Screenings are by appointment only, and can be made through Ung’s office at 718-888-8747.

Ung is urging women in her district who have not had a mammogram in the past 12 months to take advantage of the opportunity to get screened. 

“Many people, but especially those in communities with a large immigrant population, often forego preventative care and seek medical treatment only when a health issue arises,” Ung said. “However, your best chance to survive a breast cancer diagnosis is early detection.”

Women aged 40 to 79 with health insurance and women aged 50 to 79 without health insurance are eligible, however they must be a resident of New York City and not have had a mammogram within the last 12 months. No co-pays are required and deductibles are waived, and uninsured patients are welcome.

If patients have Medicare, Medicaid or other health insurance, they should bring their card with them. Their insurance will be charged for the services, but they will not be billed. On the day of the exam, they should also bring photo identification, any pertinent medical history records and the name of their primary care physician, if they have one.

Patients should wear a two-piece outfit and refrain from using any oil, powder, deodorant or perfume in the breast, underarm or chest areas. The exam consists of some initial paperwork, clinical breast exam and mammogram. If the tests are negative, the results will be mailed to the patient within seven to 10 days. If the mammogram is abnormal, the patient will receive a phone call and information on where they can undergo further tests. 

Launched in 1987 by the American-Italian Cancer Foundation, the Free Mobile Mammography Program screens over 4,500 women in 15 different languages every year.

“Breast cancer impacts one in eight women, but the survival rate is over 90% in cases where detection was made early, and as the cancer progresses that number goes down dramatically,” said Ruth Vega, director of cancer screening, outreach and education for the American-Italian Cancer Foundation. “Our mission is to make breast cancer screening available to all women, and we thank Council member Ung for inviting us to her district to make this service available to her constituents.”

Staff from the American-Italian Cancer Foundation will be able to provide services in Spanish, while staff from Chinese American IPA (CAIPA) will be on hand to provide translation services in Mandarin. Services can also be provided in Korean, and all forms will be in the language of the patient’s choice.  

Ung’s district is over 70% Asian American. According to a report published in 2019 in the American Journal of Health Behavior, cancer was cited as the leading cause of death for Asian American women, with breast cancer being the most frequently diagnosed cancer among Chinese and Korean women. However, that same demographic also has some of the lowest screening rates.

The American Cancer Society recommends that all women over 40 years of age have an annual mammogram. Before she was elected to the City Council, Ung arranged a previous visit by the Mammogram Bus to Flushing.

“Breast cancer is something that our community doesn’t talk about a lot,” said Ung, who performed intake for that original Mammogram Bus visit. “Women that I talked to had never had a mammogram, and their first one was when they came to the van. One of the reasons I allocated funding to the American-Italian Cancer Foundation was to bring awareness that every woman should get a mammogram when they turn 40. I feel like there isn’t a lot of outreach on this issue in the Asian American community.”